"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - May 2004
This issue includes:-
- Saving money: Why it's worth the effort
- Found $10,000 in lost Superannuation
- Big savings on caring for your cats and dogs
- Help needed: Keeping chickens
- From last month: My partner spends so much money
- What is Simple Savings?
How are things? We have had a wonderful month. I came home from hospital with baby Jacqueline to find hundreds of congratulatory emails waiting. Thank you!! Thank you!! It's such a lovely feeling.
Everything has been going really well. Sam is a very protective big brother and Jacqueline is a perfectly behaved baby. At the moment she is asleep, curled up against my chest while I type. Newborn babies are so cute. They will sleep anywhere. *grin*
We were completely bowled over by everyone's Congratulations emails. Thank you again. It means a lot to us when you take the time to write in and wish us well or say thank you.
"Thanks for your wonderful site. I have saved heaps since first joining. Each time I get your newsletter I send it on to friends in the hope that they will join as well. I have a little laugh when I see your 'unsubscribe' thingy at the bottom of the newsletter. WHO would want not to get it?"(Faye Ramsden)
"I just wanted to say how impressed I am with your website and the whole idea - it's brilliant. What a bargain! Keep up the great work!"(Lindy Alacs)
Life doesn't get much better than this.
1. Saving money: Why it's worth the effort
It makes me sad when friends say "I know saving money is important but I just can't be bothered. What is the point of it?" Saving money puts you in control of your life because every $15 you save is one hour you don't have to work. This means that by saving $10 on lunch there are 40 minutes you won't have to work every day. Think about it, the pennies and the hours soon add up.
Bad spending habits catch up with you. For some people it means they can never truly retire. Others believe they can't afford to have children, and never do. Some people waste so much money that the only thing they leave to their children are debts. Bad money habits even cause some people's relationships to disintegrate. That is why it is so important to spend wisely.
Good money habits equal freedom and a better life. We are proof of this - because we had good money habits we were free to quit our jobs and move to a beautiful place. We furnished our home with discarded furniture, and we squash our toilet rolls to use less and we use the Savings Vault to learn more so that we can have loads of time to spend with our children and each other.
Saving money puts you closer to your dreams. Whatever your dream is - reducing your mortgage, having enough money to pay for food, an exotic holiday, an enjoyable job, buying a car or a swimming pool - you will have to pay for it some day. The more you save, the sooner you will reach your goals.
So when someone asks you "What is the point of it?" you could try to explain that every $5 you save is one step closer to your dreams and a better life - or ask them for their email address and forward them this newsletter. *grin* Hopefully, the Savings Vault will help them.
2. Found $10,000 in lost Superannuation
A few weeks ago, Sharon Shelley won our Hint of the Week competition with a hint about "SuperSeeker" (www.ato.gov.au/super). Sharon had discovered $4,000 Superannuation in an account that she had forgotten about.
Since then, many readers have written in and asked us to pass on their thanks to Sharon. Here are a few:
Mim McKay, from South Australia, wrote: "A great big thank you to Sharon Shelley and her accountant. I too visited SuperSeeker and found $4,890 of 'lonely, lost' super. What a great treat! I can't wait to tell all my friends and colleagues. Thank you Sharon!"
Natasha Chapman, from Queensland, found $1,500: "I thought that since I hadn't worked for 12 years, the money in the super fund would have been taken up in fees. It wasn't. What a SURPRISE!"
Simon Jones, from Sydney, found just over $10,000 that he thought had already been rolled over in the past. Wow!
Thank you again, Sharon. You have given many people a very pleasant surprise this month!
3. Big savings on caring for your cats and dogs
There are so many great ways to save money on cat and dog bills. (There are 120 tips in the pets section of the savings vault.) It is astounding how many hundreds of dollars you can save by making some minor changes to your pet's routine.
Second-hand toys for dogs
If your dog likes to chew, check out your local charity/op shops for suitable plastic toys, frisbees, balls, etc. You will save heaps.
Dog biscuits by the kilo
I recently checked out the prices of dog biscuits at many different outlets. I found that some places were charging about $15 for a box of 30 (50 cents per biscuit). Then I went to a pet food supplier who was selling a mixture of loose biscuits for $4.50 per kilo. I bought 4 kilos, which came to $18, and received over 100 mixed dog biscuits (18 cents per biscuit). Be sure to pack them in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
Dog-lover without a dog
If you are a dog-lover but can't afford a dog, go to a park where local owners run, exercise or train their dogs. Take a cut lunch and you can sit under the shade of a tree and watch the dogs frolic together. It's really enjoyable - and cheap, since you take your own lunch. You may make a few really good friends this way and even be asked to 'dog-sit' their beloved animals for them if the need arises. (And it's cheaper than owning your own dog.)
Homemade pet food recipe
You can save heaps on your pet food costs by making your own - your dogs and cats will love it and it's healthy for them too.
1 kg chicken pet mince ($1 - $1.50)
500 g small pasta shells (60-70 cents)
Handful of rice (10 cents)
1 kg frozen mixed vegetables ($1.50 - $1.80)
Splash of used oil (no cost, being reused)
Cook the pasta, rice and used oil in a big pot. When it is nearly cooked, turn off the power and let the pasta and rice absorb any remaining water. This saves on the power bill. Mix the pasta and rice with the mince and the frozen mixed vegetables, and then spoon into margarine containers for dogs, and empty plastic spice containers for cats. Freeze excess containers.
For a cost of around $3.20 you will have at least two weeks worth of pet food for one pet. I feed a cat and a medium-sized dog for eight days on the above recipe. That's a great saving on my previous bills - it used to cost me $16.20 per week to feed Sandy and Puss; it now costs $2.80. My yearly pet food bill has been reduced from $842.40 to $145.60 - a huge saving of $696.80.
By the way, my pets love this food and always finish it, unlike some of the canned products. It is also a great recipe for older dogs with poor teeth as it is soft and easy to eat.
I Hope this helps all the struggling pet owners out there.
Keep cane toads away from dogs using metho
If, like me, you are a bit squeamish about belting a cane toad (very poisonous and potentially fatal to dogs) over the head with a shovel, use an old spray container (suitably labelled), fill it with methylated spirits and spray the toad. They crawl away and die.
Metal food bowl
When buying your dog a new food bowl, consider buying a metal one instead of a plastic one. If your dogs are like mine and like to chew/play with their bowl, they will destroy anything that's not metal. Metal bowls last for a very long time. If you go to a place like The Reject Shop, Clints or The Warehouse, you can usually pick up one of these bowls for less than half the price of anywhere else. I just bought a large steel bowl for my Kelpie from The Warehouse and it cost me only $4.95. One very happy owner and one very happy dog! She now gets to eat out of her bowl instead of picking up bits which have fallen out of the cracks in the plastic one!
Using wood shavings as kitty litter
I have tried every type of cat litter over the past 20 years and have found that wood shavings beat all other types for economy, absence of smell and ease of use. Wood shavings are light and environmentally friendly. The urine sinks to the bottom and the droppings are easy to collect. I don't have any odours from indoor cat trays anymore, and my litter bills have plummeted. You can buy a compressed pack of pale orange-coloured wood shavings, which are used for rodents, at any large pet barn. An amount equal to 90 centimetres by 50 centimetres costs around $14. A tray of wood shavings is simply the best type of litter tray. Try it - you will love it.
Using horsefeed as kitty litter
I think the best, safest and most effective kitty litter is Natty Cat, which is a 100 per cent lucerne pellet. Lucerne is a natural deodoriser, does not cause the health problems the clumping litters cause, and it can be recycled as a nutritious garden mulch/compost (adds nitrogen and other good things). Disposal of used litter is easy, environmentally friendly and beneficial. I scoop out the poopy bits and flush them - any clinging pellets just disintegrate without causing any septic/sewerage problems. The rest just gets tossed on the garden.
Natty Cat is relatively expensive at $2.65 for a 2 kilogram bag at my local Coles supermarket, but if you go to a produce shop (where they sell horse and chicken feed, and so on), it's around $30 for 40 kilograms. That's 75 cents, compared to $1.33 per kilogram at the supermarket, which is a terrific saving.
The horse feed is exactly the same product but with a larger pellet size. My cats don't care. I tip the bag into a garbage bin and scoop it into the litter trays using a 2-litre milk-carton scoop. I replace the pellets every day or two - I can afford to do that because I'm using a kitty litter and garden fertiliser at the same time.
Produce prices are often lower outside north Queensland, so you may make even bigger savings.
I have two cats and find that cat food can become quite expensive, so I buy a large number of tins when they are on special and can save up to 45 cents a can.
In order to provide my cats with a varied diet and still save money, I go to Bi-Lo and buy a large pack of chicken necks that I put in the freezer - these cost around $3.20 a pack and last for around a month. I simply smash them with a hammer or meat tenderiser and feed one or two to the cats four or five times a week. I save at least $5 a month by doing this.
High-sided cat litter trays
Here's a useful idea for a cat litter box. We have three indoor cats and they have a tendency to pee a little high sometimes (cats have the bottom up in the air instead of pointing down) and scatter litter all over the floor when trying to cover up their droppings. With the normal kitty litter trays, the pee and the litter end up all over the floor. We considered buying enclosed litter trays so that high pee would hit the side and run down into the litter, but couldn't afford the $40-plus that they cost.
Then my husband had a great idea. We bought 2 x 32 litre plastic storage containers from a discount store (they were $8 each), removed the lids and, voila, high-sided cat litter trays! We saved ourselves approximately $64 by doing this - and our carpet is now clean, so we saved on cleaning products too!
4. Help Needed: Keeping Chickens
This month, Nicole Kenny asked:
"We go through lots of eggs every week and because I only buy free range eggs it can become pretty expensive. I would like to keep some laying hens, but I don't know how to go about it in the most cost-effective way, so I would like to request information from other people about this topic."
If you keep chickens, or have done in the past, please send in your thoughts about how to economically achieve a daily supply of beautiful fresh eggs.
To help Nicole, go to /donatehints/
5. From last month: My partner spends so much money
Last month Michelle asked a really difficult question:
"I have a question about how to deal with conflicting goals in relation to simplicity. My husband believes that it's important to look successful, have loads of money, a new car all the time, etc. I have just started to take an interest in simple living and saving money. He thinks it's OK for me as long as it doesn't affect his spending money or his image! I am at a loss, but he has always been this way, and he is quite happy and loves and cares for his possessions.
How can I simplify my life to achieve my own happiness and still let him have his fun? At present we are 'double income no kids' but I'm hoping to change that!"
We had an amazing response from people willing to help out with Michelle's dilemma. The funniest was 'Move house a few times. That will give him a whole new attitude towards all his stuff!'
There was a common theme through many of the responses - the suggestion to split their finances so that Michelle and her husband would pay half each of all the necessary bills, and the rest would be their own to do with as they pleased. This would mean that Michelle could save her own money and not be affected by her husband's spending. Maybe in time he would notice and appreciate the results of Michelle's money habits. At the very least it might allow them to talk about money in a more neutral way, knowing the 'play money' wasn't at risk.
Here are a couple of our favourite responses:
"My partner and I are in the same boat but are single income with three kids. He earns all the money.
"By setting goals that we both want to achieve, we can save together. We are currently saving a deposit for a house, and luckily he knows that every dollar we spend puts us further away from that dream. By giving him an 'allowance', he's still able to enjoy the things he likes to spend money on.
"Once or twice I've had to invoke the rule that if he wants a large amount of money to spend he also has to give me the same amount! In effect, his big purchase will cost him double what he expected. This makes him think twice.
"Also, try to get your husband to agree that if he can't reduce consumer debt, then at least take advantage of no-interest schemes or lay-by etc. You may find that after waiting 12 weeks to pay off a lay-by he no longer 'desires' whatever it was he 'had to have'.
"Good luck, you'll get there!"
"I used to have the same problem but now what I do is allow my partner and I the same amount of spending money every week. This way the temptation to spend is taken away as you are free to do whatever you wish with your money. If we want to buy a big product we have to save for it from that money every week. It's worked out perfectly."
"The way we do it in our household is we have 'sanity allowance'. Basically, it's pocket money for adults. He can spend his on ANYTHING he wants, no questions asked. He can save up to get the latest flat screen TV, or he can spend it each week. That's how we do it and it works. I know I can buy whatever I want, I just have to stay within my budget."
The other responses to Michelle's question are in the Savings Vault under 'Finances -> Money Management'
6. What is Simple Savings?
The Simple Savings website helps people improve their life by improving their money habits.
Poor money skills place a huge unnecessary strain on people and relationships. It doesn't matter what your income is, if you and your partner improve your spending skills you can stop fighting or stressing over money. That is the way it works.
The site has two main sections, free and paid. The free subscribers receive five newsletters each month containing around 30 saving tips. Paid members get access to the Savings Vault, which is a massive archive of over 4,000 saving hints. It is very common for Savings Vault members to lower their bills by $3,000 per year - pretty good considering it only costs $47 per year to join. If you want to become a member go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
Seventy percent of the information in the Savings Vault will help you save money wherever you live - the country, the city, Australia, the USA or New Zealand. You only need to use one or two of the general hints to get your money back - and pocket a nice bonus. If you change one tiny habit and it saves you $1 per week that is $52 per year and a 100 percent return on your investment.
The Vault is there for people who want to learn how to change the way they think about money and improve their spending habits. There are so many thousands of ways to save, it can help the silliest spendthrift through to the tightest frugal lower their bills. By going to the Vault and reading detailed stories from other people who have reduced their bills, your friends will start to see and experience the benefits of being frugal.
If you want to check out the Vault, but are afraid it is something you may never use, we have a 'no questions asked' refund policy. You have a full year to ask for your money back. We want you to get excellent value in everything you buy, including your membership to the Savings Vault. To join go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
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.