"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - January 2006
This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally and Happy Hanna: Holiday Hangover
- Freedom from Seasonal Debt
- Protecting Kids from Sales Pitches
- Valentine Dates
- Penny's Blog
- Homeopathy Corner: Fixing Vaccine Damage
- From Last Month: Private Health Insurance
- This Month's Help Requests: Home Improvements
- Savings Story: $30 Date to Remember
Happy New Year!
Did you have a lovely break? Have you given the Changing Habit calendar a try? Please write in and tell us how it goes - I love your emails. They are brilliant.
"I just want to say a big 'thank you' for your very helpful site. I have been married for nine years, and despite my husband and I both working during that time, we have always seemed to have struggled to make ends meet. Now, with a toddler and a baby, and one income, things are tighter than ever. Your hints and ideas have opened my eyes to see all the areas we were wasting money and have shown us ways to save. We are now saving for that once elusive house. I cannot sing your praises enough, you are doing a fantastic job. Really, saving is so simple once you know how!" (Debbie Mills)
"Well, after joining Simple Savings my attitude to so many little money-related things has changed dramatically over the years, and yesterday I saw a sale on at a great clothes store, some things at only $5.00. So I walked in and started looking around, but I honestly felt very nonplussed about being there, and something in my head was saying 'you don't need any of this. I know it's a good bargain but do you need yet another t-shirt or pair of jeans?' And so I walked out and was very happy because I felt like I'd reached the next level in savings - going from someone who would spend $100 every single weekend on clothes (yeah I know, ouch!), to someone who would only buy clothes on special, to finally someone who would only buy something if it was needed - even if it was on special. For me I feel like this is the zen of savings and simplicity.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you all a huge thank you for helping me become so much smarter with my money. Thanks to your site my husband and I have paid off our credit card, paid off most of our car, are well on the way to owning our first home, and - I think most importantly - we know that if we had to do it tough for some reason we could not only survive but be happy and get ahead." (Harmony Steel)
"Wow - the calendar is just amazing! I think just the inspiration of your emails has made me feel like I can save. I'm a single gal living in expensive Sydney city so any hints are great. Thanks for your help!" (Stella Chambers)
"I have found Simple Savings a Godsend. I have changed my shopping habits completely. I spent $108.09 back in August (when I discovered Simple Savings) on bulk goods, laundry powder, vinegar, sugar soap, wash up detergent, liquid hand wash, shampoo and conditioner and a crystal deo stick and I have not had to spend another cent on these items since (now December). I have also shopped around for car insurance and saved $130/year by searching the net. I have also changed my internet and phone providers and am saving myself up to $90/month. We have just had a weeks holiday with the savings we have made. Thank you, what a great service!" (Lucy Bennett)
"A big thank you to you all! My boyfriend and I are building a house, and will be moving soon. I've gained so many tips from this website. I've managed to really think about my spending habits, paid off my credit card, and saved up so we can buy the basics when we move in. We thought that the furniture and set up was going to be the biggest expense, but we've kept an ear out for rellies and friends getting rid of stuff. We've gained all the stuff we need in our house including two lounge suites, plus pavers and roll-on grass, which we planted for the moment but will dig up again. Now we just need the house to be finished. I'm also fussy with fridges and wanted a big 'upside down' fridge. Brand new they all cost around $1500. I went to Fridge and Washer City who I discovered also sells second-hand fridges. I got the perfect second-hand 'upside down' fridge for $550. And I put it on lay-by so I have two months to pay it off - I'm doing it slowly because while it's there, I'm not worrying about storage before the house is finished. Also it's properly cleaned, and has a warranty for peace of mind. So, thanks so much for teaching me a different way of thinking!" (Rachel Burdett)
"Thank you so much for a wonderful site, a job well done by your team in putting saving tips together. Since I subscribed, two years ago, I have been helped by your site in teaching myself to save and making it my business to save and manage my money wisely. Every little tip is valuable and I must say I have spread the word around to my friends and family." (Katalina Chaston)
Have a wonderful month!
PS. We have started adding extra hints for Vault members to these newsletters. We put them in green boxes to distinguish them.
1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Holiday Hangover
Sally sat at the kitchen table with her head in her hands. She had put off opening her Mastercard bill as long as she could, but the nagging feeling wouldn't go away and now the evidence was in front of her, she couldn't quite believe it. Had she really spent that much? She frantically checked the statement, hoping to find some kind of huge error, but it was no use; the debt was all hers.
She heard Pete's car pull up at the house - he mustn't find out! She quickly hid the bill, dried her eyes and pretended to carry on as normal. "Hi Sal! How was your day? Hey, what's with the blotchy face? Have you been crying?" "No - of course not! I was just chopping onions."
"Come off it Sal, when was the last time you cooked something from scratch!" laughed Pete. "Really, what's up?" "Nothing. Nothing is wrong and not everything I cook comes out of a packet!" Sally stormed off. Meal time that evening was awful. The air was so heavy you could cut it with a knife. Even the kids knew something was wrong. Pete didn't dare mention there weren't any onions in dinner.
After the kids had gone to bed, Sally attempted to smooth things over. "Sorry I was so touchy earlier - I've just had a bit on my mind today." Pete softened a little. "I'm sorry too, Sal - but I get very cross when you hide things from me. We have been married 13 years."
Sally loves Pete so much she couldn't bring herself to tell the truth - so she lied again. "I wasn't hiding things from you. I was just uptight. Because, I don't know how to break it to the kids... that I'm going to have to work overtime every weekend these holidays." she winced.
"Again! Haven't you done enough for that lot? Surely they can find someone else to cover the shifts - don't let them take you for granted, Love. What about Hanna? She never works overtime. How does she get away with it?" Sally started to sob.
That day the scene at Hanna's house was very different. The family were all outside enjoying a fierce game of cricket. Hanna had saved hard all year and took two weeks leave without pay in January. Her kids were making the most of it and practicing their bowling skills on dad. Hanna looked on, grinned and thought "I love my life."
Who are you most like, Sally or Hanna? Who would you rather be?
2. Freedom from Seasonal Debt
Poor Sally's festive joyride just came to a screaming halt, while Hanna gets to enjoy the fruits of her labour. Now is the time to choose where you would like to be this time next year. Worn out and stressing about bills - or relaxed and worry-free.
If you want to be more like Hanna, here are some steps you can take in the right direction.
Print out the free Habit Changer Calendar
You know the one, I spent ages making it for you! Nag, nag, nag. The calendar will help you take a good look at your everyday habits and show you that changing the smallest habits - maybe even ones you haven't thought of - can go a long way towards paying off that credit card bill or finally being able to afford your own home. You can download the calendar here
Control your cards.
Your first goal is to get the entire balance of your credit card paid off as soon as possible. Free up any extra cash you can, start getting rid of it now and avoid paying any more interest on that debt! Even if you feel you cannot find any 'extra cash' right now, it is good to bear the following in mind:
If you have money in a savings account earning 2% and you are paying 18% interest on your credit card balance, you need to put the cash toward paying off your debt. It is great to have an emergency cash stash, but when you are sitting on a huge credit card balance at 18% you are not sitting pretty!
If you regularly receive Medicare or health fund rebates, have the money put straight against your credit card. Every bit counts!
If your debt isn't under control by June, pay your tax refund straight into your credit card acccount.
Start your own Christmas fund.
How about opening a Christmas savings account now in January? Have a regular amount automatically transferred each month from your pay or bank account into a separate fund just for Christmas. If you put away $2.00 a day you will accumulate $730 in a year.
Get your presents out of the way early
Make a list of all the people you normally buy Christmas presents for and keep it in a notebook in your bag or wallet. This way, you can take advantage of suitable specials and sale items as you see them throughout the year. Just tick the name off of each person you find a gift for as you go. By the time Christmas comes around, you may well find you have done all your gift shopping already, for a fraction of the usual price!
Resolve to do better!
Once you have your credit cards under control, resolve to either cut them up, store them in the freezer, feed them to the neighbour's dog - whatever it takes to avoid running up a large debt again. If you really must use them, pay the entire balance off monthly so you do not incur further debt. Think of it this way - every time you shop with your credit card and incur interest, you are actually paying more for your items than everyone else!
Debra Smith explains this in greater detail in the Vault. Click the link to read her story:
3. Protecting Kids from Sales Pitches
If you send your child out into this world without a decent understanding of money, they are way behind the eight ball. They will be vulnerable to every sales pitch and marketing ploy they come across. Teaching your kids the value of money will protect them for their entire life.
Here are some simple ways to get started:
Tips for teaching your kids to save
Discuss some goals and objectives with your child they can save towards.
Encourage saving, especially if your child earns money doing household chores or other set tasks on a regular basis.
Teach your children to shop around, just as we do! Promote smart shopping habits, show them how to look for bargains or be patient until the item they want comes on sale and can be bought for less.
Encourage kids to set aside at least 10% of their pocket money as savings, either into a money box or into their bank account.
If your youngster is reluctant to save their money or finds saving a real struggle, offer to match their savings or give them a bonus sum as a reward when they reach their savings goal.
Make it clear that your child needs to save up enough money before they buy the item they want - no pocket money in advance!
If you do end up paying their allowance in advance to help them out, charge them interest on what you lend them. It's a great way for them to learn how credit works and affects us as adults.
Kids can resell their own toys on eBay
My children are learning the value of money and making their dollars go further - even though they are only five and nine years old. They were always bugging me for the latest this and that and it was costing me a small fortune keeping up with them. Once they had whatever the 'must have' item was, it was forgotten, broken or lost only a week or so later. So I made them responsible for their toys, clothes and other belongings.
They now are able to resell their things on eBay when they have outgrown them. They get the proceeds and can purchase the new things they want themselves. The results have been fantastic. Toys are always put away and pieces are never lost. The clothes are no longer chucked on the floor or covered in Texta, because they know it will lower the resale value!
Save a portion of weekly pocket money
After reading through this wonderful website and making significant savings for our household, I decided to pass on these good tips and money management strategies to the most important people in my life - my kids.
I have three sons (aged eight, six, and five months) who I would like to grow up having more money sense than I did. So, I pay the two eldest $5.00 a week and they have to put at least 20% of this into their school Commonwealth Bank accounts. As a result, they are learning early to save some of their money. My two eldest sons were not too happy about this at first, but imagine their surprise when they had saved their first $10. They now have a basic understanding of how to save for something, and are hopefully going to gain the skills to learn to save for something instead of just getting a loan or credit card.
Although I pay them the $5.00, they still have to do set 'jobs' around the house and, as budding entrepreneurs, they have also realised that by doing 'overtime' (extra jobs), they can sometimes earn more money to save for special purchases. So even though it is important for us as parents (even as aunties and uncles!) to watch our money, it is more important to pass on these skills to our younger generation who are now living in the 'Credit' age!
Kids' Payday Scheme
The Kids' Payday Scheme, developed by Janine Gaye and available from Simple Savings, is a perfect way to start your children on some excellent saving habits, while making your life easier! The Payday Scheme includes all you need to introduce your child to the world of balance sheets, cheques and credit in a fun format which is easy to understand. You can print off your own copy here: www.simplesavings.com.au/resources/payday
4. Valentine Dates
Whoever thought romance was dead hasn't taken a look at the Vault! Whether you are new to the dating game, or an old romantic, there are heaps of ideas to impress your loved ones this February 14th. There are also free printable Valentine Vouchers at: www.simplesavings.com.au/freestuff
Celebrate on a different day
My partner and I celebrate Valentine's Day on a different day, and save heaps by doing it! By not getting sucked in by all the marketing hype surrounding each Valentine's Day, we avoid the escalated prices for the occasion. We still have the romance, dinner, flowers and chocolates, but for less cost. It's no different to a wedding anniversary really - we all celebrate that on different days! By doing this, we can get our own 'Valentine' dinner reservations or flowers at a fraction of the price if we wish to do so. It's something unique and you never have to tell people you are doing it to save money, but to celebrate romance when everyone else isn't!
A warm way to share sentiments
On Valentine's Day couples can still enjoy the romance and exchange loving words without the need to feel pressured into buying expensive cards. My husband and I were at the supermarket and came across the Valentine's Day cards. I found one I really liked for him and gave it to him. Once he had read it, he put it back on the shelf and picked one out for me, which I in turn, read and put back on the shelf. The words still meant so much and it was lovely to enter into the sentiment of the day.
$6.00 tub of ice cream
Last year, we bought a tub of Sara Lee Strawberries and Cream ice cream and headed straight for the bedroom. This year we might try Triple Chocolate.
Here are a few more ideas you can find in the Vault:
If you would like to join the Savings Vault, it costs $47. We have a 365 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee. Everything is explained on our secure order form: www.simplesavings.com.au/order
5. Penny's Blog
Penny's Blog is a special treat for Vault members and is updated a couple of times a week. It is so much fun; we include an entry in the newsletter. To view the rest of Penny's Blog go to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/pennywise
Thursday January 5th
Habit changing is the Simple Savings theme for 2006 and I have been putting my new calendar to good use. In fact, I have been busy trying to change everyone else's habits as well! Take Noel for example - since I fractured my leg he has been brilliant helping out with the washing and so on, but in the end I could hold my tongue no longer and had to give him a crash course in washing clothes. For example - one does not wash wife's best blouses with husband's thick woolly 'farm fleck' socks. One does not wash towels with anything else unless you want the family garments to be permanently covered in fluffy bobbles. One doesn't hang clothes out by their shoulders on the washing line unless you want everyone to walk around with quirky little peg shaped lumps sticking up on either side of their neck. Last but not least, the golden rule - one does not dry wife's bras on the washing line by tying them there using the shoulder straps!
Husband duly sorted, next it was the kids' turn to get a makeover. When I was growing up, I did absolutely nothing to help out around the home. Admittedly I was an only child and wasn't a particularly messy type, but my Mum did everything for me. It's only now I am being run ragged by children of my own that I could see what a lazy and selfish brat I was, taking everything for granted. Consequently my own children have turned out the same, but I had finally had enough of constantly running around after them and picking up after them. The house looked like a bombsite and I was worn out. So last night, I fought back! I stuck a new set of rules up in the kitchen, which read as follows:
Any cups, plates or bowls that Liam and Ali leave laying around must be washed up by them in the sink.
Any clothes or towels left laying on the floor will be picked up and Liam and Ali will have to wash them by themselves.
Any toys, artwork or magazines which are not picked up and put away properly will be put in a rubbish bag, hidden away and will not be brought out again for a whole week. If the mess does not improve, the offending items will be given away to children who do not have as much as Liam and Ali do.
Any mess, puddles or flooding in the bathroom must be cleaned up when Liam and Ali get out of the bath or they have to clean the toilet.
You should have seen their faces when they read the notice and realized that I was serious! We went through the house with a rubbish bag, tossing in everything that they had got out during the day and left laying around the house. Once they had finished, they couldn't believe how tidy the house looked - and they also couldn't believe that they had made so much mess in one day, even I couldn't lift the sack! It certainly made them think. While Ali was filling the sack, Liam went round and filled an entire washing basket with clothes and towels that had been strewn all over the place. They were then shown how to sort the washing and operate the washing machine. Finally, they went around gathering all the cups and plates they had left laying around and I showed them how to wash their own dishes in the sink. I know, I was embarrassed that at seven and nine years of age, my children had no idea what to do! Whose fault was that? Mine of course! The house looked wonderful after their jobs had all been carried out and they were really proud that they had done it all themselves.
The surprising thing was how much they enjoyed doing it! They loved learning how to wash the dishes and putting their own washing in the machine, because they loved the responsibility. All these years I have just been thinking it's easier to take care of things myself, thinking that nobody else would do it the way I like anyway and acting all martyr-like. Today they were super conscientious about picking up after themselves and when they asked me where a particular toy was, they would suddenly remember 'Oh - it's in the sack. Can't I just grab one out of there?' But I stuck to my guns and they learned a valuable lesson. Long may it last - let's hope for all our sakes I don't have to teach them to clean the toilet yet!
The only one left who needed to change a habit was me and I chose a tough one to fill in the first month of my calendar. I do confess to enjoying the odd glass of wine (Fiona and Naomi will vouch for this) and I don't have a problem with that, I certainly don't buy the most expensive brand, but my wine drinking leads to all kinds of other bad habits. For example:
If I feel like a glass of wine on a particular evening and I don't have any, this means an extra trip into town to the store, using valuable petrol.
While in the store buying my wine, I invariably end up buying half a dozen other things, particularly lollies and drinks if the kids are with me.
When I drink wine, I often end up eating later in the evenings, such as crackers and cheese, chips and dip, that kind of thing. I only eat them out of habit and because they are there, not because I am hungry. Not good for the waistline eating at the wrong time of day!
So, the wine had to go! I filled in my Wealthy Habits Plan on the calendar and on the website:
The one bad habit I would like to change is: drinking wine.
I am going to replace this habit with: lime juice and soda.
I will gain a saving of: $50 per week, which is around $200 per month or $2400 per year (Jings!)
I will remind myself to change this habit by: keeping a packet of Tim Tams on the kitchen bench. (I read an article which stated that drinking a glass of white wine is equal in calories to eating a Tim Tam and there's no way I would sit and eat two or three chocolate biscuits in an evening, so this is a great deterrent for me). I will also place a Memory Trigger sticker on the wine rack.
My reward for progress will be: hopefully losing some weight from cutting out all those calorie laden glasses, not to mention the full fat cheese and crackers!
I will make my old habit hard to do by: only keeping beer in the house, which I don't like.
My new habit will be easier to do because: the wine will not be there and I don't want to use any unnecessary petrol going to get some.
I wrote down in my calendar all the things I would like to do or could achieve with an extra $2400 a year - wow, how easy would that be, just by changing one little habit! So, that's what I'm doing and so far it's working. I put a little tick on my calendar for each day that I don't partake of any wine, which is great motivation because it's right where I can see it and I don't want to see any crosses on there for days that I fail! I'm already well on the way to saving my first $50!
6. Homeopathy Corner - Fixing Vaccine Damage
Immunising children is important but things can go wrong and create a lifetime of problems, stress and expense. As a homeopath, Fran regularly sees children who have had mild to severe reactions to their vaccinations. Good homeopathic treatment can save a life-time of expense and provide relief for families unfortunate enough to find themselves is such a traumatic situation.
This month Fran is sharing two stories with us from her clinic so we can see what is possible with a good homeopathic prescription. They are compelling reading. Fran's stories are drawn from real-life events but still blow me away. To read this month's article go to: homeopathyplus.com.au/cases/vaccinationdamage.html
7. From Last Month: Private Health Insurance
Last month Elizabeth Forrester asked
"I am wondering what your members think about private health insurance. Is it worth the money? I am partnered with a 15 month old child, which means I would need to take out family health insurance. The cheapest quote I have found so far is $1700 per year (ouch) or $32 per week. At the moment I do not work and this is money that we just don't seem to have. However, I have a lot of problems with my teeth but looking on the health insurance website I realised that many of their services are capped (that they will only pay out a certain amount). This year alone I have already spent over $500 at the dentist and now I need more work. My daughter also needs to have her adenoids checked. If this requires an operation it is approximately two years waiting time on the public list. I am interested to know what your members think. Do they know of any cheap funds which still provide a good service?"
This proved to be a very timely topic, with the health funds about to increase their fees! Our Help Requests always receive a huge response and this was a topic close to the hearts of many - unfortunately we only have room to print a small selection! Health insurance is a personal choice, a big thank you to everyone who sent in thought provoking replies such as the ones below:
NOTE: We are discussing health insurance in Australia. This information may not be applicable to the USA, New Zealand or other countries.
Fat savings account from cancelled cover
My health insurance money enabled me to buy my first home! Years ago, after having top cover private health insurance for over ten years, I got really peeved that I still had to pay a gap every time I made a claim. I cancelled my cover and opened a bank account, depositing the same amount that I was paying the insurer. I used that account only for health issues.
I ended up having enough in the account to use as a deposit for my first home. Not what the account was for initially, but it gives you an idea of what can be saved!
Just use dental cover
If you don't want to take out private health insurance just to get the dental cover, there is another option. There is a company called Dentacare 03 9654 6355 which cover all your dentistry needs. My sister enrolled with Dentacare as she is on a disability pension and the waiting list for public dentistry is far too long.
No benefit from going private
After being insured with HBA for years and never making a claim, I decided it wasn't worth it, considering the caps they have on claims for dental, massage, eye care and so on. I put my fund on hold for three months while I did my sums and decided what to do.
With some research, I discovered the kinds of medical problems my unborn child, husband and I could have would all be covered with Medicare and be seen to quickly in a public hospital. There are no benefits in being a private patient in a public hospital. It is better to be either a private client in a private hospital OR a public patient in a public hospital. Obviously waiting lists could be a factor, people say 'you have to pay a loading on your premium if you join later - at say age 40 or 50', but I figure with the money I've saved in all those years, I'll be either ahead of the game, or at worst about even.
Insurance a must for heart conditions
Health insurance is expensive and there are out of pocket expenses but it is still a must. Last year my husband had a heart attack and a stroke within nine weeks - costing $42,000 - the out of pocket costs were worth every penny. He was operated on immediately for the heart blockages and is a walking miracle. We know heart attack victims who do not have health insurance and they are yet to have their blockages even looked at!
For more great responses, check out these linked titles in the Vault or go to the Health -> Health Insurance index:
If you would like to join the Savings Vault, it costs $47. We have a 365 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee. Everything is explained on our secure order form: www.simplesavings.com.au/order
8. This Month's Help Requests: Home Improvements
This month we have two help requests. Angela Simons asked:
"This summer has been really hot and we are baking in our rented house. Does anyone have any suggestions to cool the house that we can pay for and might be able to talk our landlord into?"
This month Sarah asked:
"We'd love to know more about cheap ways to brighten up the 'worst house in the best street' for when we purchase our own home some time this year! Any hints or tips would be great!"
If you have some good tips for Angela and Sarah go to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
9. Savings Story: $30 Date to Remember
We celebrated our wedding anniversary in true romantic style, complete with fireworks - for less than $30! My husband said he was taking me on a delightful, economical mystery night out. First we went to Brighton-Le-Sands, where we had celebrated our fourth anniversary 12 years before. We bought beautiful grilled fish and chips from a seafood shop for $18 and sat on the beach, enjoying the fresh sea breezes even more than we had 12 years earlier, especially because we've been living in the outback for five years!
Then we drove to the city, parked for free on the side of the road (after a bit of a search!) and took a leisurely stroll along the water's edge to Circular Quay. Again we avoided the frightfully expensive restaurants in favour of buying our dessert from the New Zealand Ice Creamery ($6.50 for two delicious ice creams), eating them as we wandered back along the water's edge.
Suddenly, we were treated to some spectacular fireworks! They were coming from a boat on the water in front of the Opera House, so we sat down on some steps to enjoy the moment. It was made even more special with a live band playing music 'just for us' (well, actually for the patrons of the restaurant just behind where we were sitting!) Of course, my husband said he'd planned this 'special moment'!
It couldn't have been a more beautiful evening, and all up it cost us under $30! We wouldn't have even got one meal for that price if we'd sat in a typical restaurant with everyone else! Best of all, it was so much more special and romantic!