"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - June 2010
This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
- Houses of Straw
- July is $50 Challenge Month!
- Double Dinner Competition Winners
- Best of the Forum: Stashing it Away
- Best of the Vault: Hidden Surprises
- $21 Challenge - Read Chapter 2 Free!
- Savvy Cook Showcase: Tristan's Terrific Techni-coloured Taters
- Penny's Blog: All Things Bright and Beautiful
- Homeopathy Corner: Kitchen Cupboard Cures
- From Last Month: Coping as a Carer
- This Month's Help Request: Share the House, Halve the Cost?
- Savings Story: Live Like Kings on Op Shop Budget
Things have been going along well in the Lippey household. It's amazing how fast the kids are growing up. Sam was just one when we started Simple Savings. Now he is eight years old and so grown up! I often try to take photos of him, but he always runs off as eight year old boys do and I end up with a photo of the side of his head as he flees. However, I have discovered this is because I have been taking the wrong approach. The best way to photograph an eight-year-old boy is to try to take a nice photo of his sister. Then the eight-year-old boy will insist on being in the photo, so he can harass his sister! If only I'd worked this out sooner!
Sam has also just hit that next stage where he is getting the hang of telling jokes. Last week when he yelped after stubbing his toe, he followed with a dead pan 'Don't worry, I get fatal injuries all the time'. I was in stitches! I don't know where he gets his dry sense of humour from, must be his father!
Matt is a great daddy. He is kind, he makes us laugh and does more than his fair share to keep our bills low. Like last week, when he needed new glasses. The lady tried her best to appeal to his ego so he would buy expensive frames. 'Do you want to try these $300 frames? They will look good on you,' she assured him. 'No thank you. I'll just go with the cheap ones,' said Matt. 'But - don't you want your glasses to make you look good?' the lady kept trying. 'No,' Matt replied. 'I'm only going to be wearing them in the car at night and no one is going to see me. I'll just get the cheap ones.' LOL! Well done my gorgeous hubby.
It is great that we are all in this together. And, we ARE in this together. Simple Savings exists because you support us and your support means we can afford to help people. When someone writes in to thank Simple Savings for their help, they are thanking you as much as they are thanking me. So when you read these thank you letters, pat yourself on the back! Thank you for helping us to help people.
"I love Simple Savings. I use a weekly menu planner and as a family we decide what we would like. That way, if I am not home in time from teaching or my hubby has been called out to work, the kids can see what's on the menu and put the vegies on for us. Saves us getting takeaway and the kids can also take the food out of the freezer the night before if I forget. Thanks for the menu planners, I love them!" (Joanne Sharp)
"I came across the Simple Savings website by accident only last week and already I'm hooked. I have subscribed to the free newsletter and just by reading the Newsletter Archives, I have been motivated to tighten the purse strings.
"I am currently on maternity leave so only on the one income at the moment. Although we have budgeted for my time off, it always helps to save on those everyday expenses, such as the grocery bills.
"I was intrigued by the $21 Challenge that I came across on your website. Although I have not yet purchased the book, I read the first chapter on your website and took it upon myself to have a $21 Challenge this week. My grocery bill this week came to $15.85 (that included eight litres of milk)! It is amazing just how much food we already have in our freezer, fridge and pantry.
"Your website has inspired me to check out our local weekend markets where I bought my fruit and vegies this week. Such a saving! It has also motivated me to make good use of the delicious navel oranges that we have growing on our tree in our backyard. I have been cooking up an orange storm in our kitchen this week!
"Thank you so much for an amazingly practical and resourceful website and newsletters. I'm sure it won't be too long before I subscribe to the Saving Vault! I'm hooked! Thank you again." (Lisa Whawell)
"Using the $21 Challenge principles I have managed to drop my weekly shop from $120 or so to around $50 which also includes adding $5.00 to my Christmas club account at our local supermarket. I have saved over $400 in six weeks! I now double check and have a new saying - 'do I really need that or can it wait until next week?' This is a very new way of shopping for me as I have always spent lots of money on food every pay. Instead of food my savings have been going towards my loan which is fantastic. A huge THANK YOU to the $21 Challenge for the big savings I have made so far!" (Stephanie Peehikuru)
"I just wanted to pass on my thanks for the smart person that created the Weekly Power Calculator. I downloaded it after receiving another exorbitant electricity bill and used it weekly to track our energy use for the last three months. To my surprise, it actually worked, and today when I received my latest bill in the mail it didn't come as a shock, as I already knew how much we had spent for the quarter. I was only out by $1.00 which I can live with!
"Thanks once again for all your great advice. We will be using this worksheet from now on!" (Natasha Bencich)
"Thanks to SS member Belsie, I have saved $140 in two minutes after reading her hint! Whilst walking my dog yesterday I saw a tree lopper's truck and mulcher parked in our shopping strip. I asked the driver if he was working in the area today. He was and now I have over two cubic metres of mulch delivered to the exact spot to 'mature' for 2-3 months for free! At our local Mitre 10 good mulch costs around $55 per metre, plus delivery charges of $30. If it wasn't for Belsie's Facebook hint I don't think I would have thought to ask. I am so happy with my savings! Now all I need to do is negotiate some free help in spreading it!" (Marg Stanton)
All the best,
PS: VAULT SPECIAL NOW ON! You asked for it, you got it! This month you can buy a Vault membership for just $33 compared to the usual $47. $33 isn't much money and you will get much, much more than $33 back. Check out our Save-O-Meter, which shows our members have already saved over SEVEN MILLION dollars - and that's just the savings we know about! You can join the Vault here. Join now and find thousands of ways to help you with your $50 Challenge! Offer closes midnight 31st July.
1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
"Don't you dare point the finger at me, Peter!" Sally jumped down her husband's throat. "I have NOT been spending money behind your back! I might have made a mistake or two in the past but I've been trying hard to make up for it and you know it!" "Well if that's the case, where on earth has all our money gone then?" Pete demanded. "Can you tell me please, because I sure as heck don't know!"
"Yes I can! I can tell you exactly where it's gone!" Sally stormed. "The kids needed new winter clothes, my car needed two new tyres - and we spent $300 on YOUR new reading glasses, remember? It's been an expensive month. Have a look at the bank statement if you don't believe me and see for yourself," Sally waved it under his nose.
"No, no, there's no need," Pete grunted. "I'm sorry I had a go at you, I'm just angry. We're going backwards, still! What are we going to do about it Sal?" "What are WE going to do about it? On the contrary, I'd like to know what YOU are going to do about it!" Sally asked. "I've been doing my bit for months. We're saving heaps on the food bill since I started cooking in bulk. Heck, I even learned how to feed the four of us on $21 for a week! No, Dear, this time it's your turn for a change. I'm challenging YOU to find a way to boost our bank balance!"
2. Houses of Straw
Men and women often fight about money; who spends what, when, where and why. In newsletters gone by, it has always been Pete accusing his wife of sending the family backwards. Admittedly, Sad Sally was and still often is a Sad Sally, but Pete has his moments too. For their household to get ahead, saving money needs to be a team effort.
When we started Simple Savings, Australia was in a boom period. Everyone thought they had money; people swanned about showing off their pretend wealth. The people who enjoyed saving money were a fringe group. They were the boring ones, the sensible ones, making an effort to pay off their mortgages. The dull people, saving for a rainy day. The ones in the older houses driving older cars that everyone else looked down on. Like the third little pig in the famous fairy tale, they thought of their future and built their financial house out of bricks while the others played.
Everyone else built their homes out of straw or wood but it didn't matter. People had lots of money and the economy was buoyant for so long that everyone was fine as no wind ever came. The people in straw houses laughed at the people in the brick houses, who were careful and cautious. But then the wind blew. Credit dried up and the straw houses started falling down. People were no longer laughing.
In the last three months 33,000 manufacturing workers lost their jobs. This means 100,000 Australian manufacturing jobs have been lost since the start of the GFC. According to the latest Fujitsu Australia Mortgage Stress Report 40% of first home owners are currently experiencing some type of mortgage stress and at least 218,000 households are at risk of having to sell, refinance or foreclose their homes, right now. Things are pretty serious. Things are getting pretty grim behind closed doors. And, (sorry I had to say it) the wolf is at the door.
So what does this mean? If you built your financial house out of bricks, then just like the third little pig you can come to the rescue. You can help your neighbours who have built their houses out of straw. The easiest way is to lend them a copy of your $21 Challenge book. Don't buy them one - that could be seen as insulting. They have probably gone to a great deal of effort to hide their problems from the world and you weren't supposed to have noticed. Just say, 'I love this book! You have got to borrow it and try this recipe. It is so yummy.' Then let them keep your copy as long as they need it.
If, however, you didn't build your financial house out of brick, you will need to make some tough decisions. The first is, can you afford to keep your house? Not a hypothetical house but your real one, the one you are paying off or renting right now. Seriously, look at your finances and work out how long you can afford to live where you are. Then get yourself to a financial counsellor. Quick. Times are changing and the sooner you are prepared the better.
3. July is $50 Challenge Month!
This month we are challenging you to find a way to save an extra $50 for every week of July. We don't mind how you do it, just give it a go! After all, $50 a week is not just $50 a week. It's $200 a month or $2600 a year!
Think about what you spend each year on bills. Have you ever worked it out? Many Simple Savers are very efficient at working out their monthly and weekly spend, but have you ever tried working in reverse?
Check this out for an average annual bill tally:
- $1300 - Car registration (two cars)
- $2350 - Insurance (house, two cars and mortgage protection)
- $1820 - Electricity
- $520 - Water
- $1700 - Phone (one mobile, house and Internet)
- $460 - Council rates
- $1800 - Fuel
- $5000 - Groceries
- $5200 - Cigarettes (two smokers - yikes!)
- Total $20,150
If you could look at your own tally like this, you probably wouldn't wonder so often where your hard earned cash goes every year, would you? In fact you would probably want to take a darn good look at what you are spending and take a few steps to cut it down!
So here are our top 10 ways to start plotting your course towards saving some extra money each week.
Say goodbye to alcohol, cigarettes and junk food - Stop buying those everyday luxuries you take for granted - such as Coke, alcohol, cigarettes and junk food. Fact - you don't need them. They just take up a lot of the spare money you have and are things that you really can go without. If you can do this, you will soon find that you have money left over for emergencies or to put away in the bank.
Revisit your expenses - Keep yourself accountable each week for what you are spending to achieve your goals. These tools from the site will help you.
Get a piggy bank - You just can't beat the old fashioned piggy bank. This creates a visual reminder to capture those little handfuls of change you come home with. At the end of the year, you'll have a nice little savings fund for Christmas.
Pack your lunch - Don't go out for lunch every day. Pack your lunch instead! This can easily save you $50 a week.
Don't forget to ask - Ask for a discount. You might find that many places give unadvertised discounts. For example, paying in full instead of monthly installments or just asking the plumber next time he visits. Many things are negotiable if you ask!
Lower your meat costs - Meat is generally the most expensive source of protein. By cutting down on just one expensive meat meal per week you can save $50. Make a lovely quiche or vegetarian meal instead. You and your wallet will be better off.
Lower your interest rates - Call your bank and/or credit card company to negotiate a better interest rate on your loan or outstanding debt. This can save you hundreds in interest payments.
Use only one car - Get rid of the second car. Just trying to get by on one car may seem like a challenge, but it's well worth it if you are a two-car family. How does at least $1000 in insurance and registration savings sound to you? That's not even including the petrol savings!
Use your library more - Instead of buying books and renting movies, use your local library to check out books and movies for free.
Get excited about saving - Find a passion for saving money. Not because you want to hoard all your cash, but because you want to use it for you and your family's future. And don't forget about your own retirement. Enjoy watching your savings grow, safe in the knowledge that you won't have to depend on someone else for your future.
4. Double Dinner Competition Winners
Well done! This month's winners are Naomi D and Colin S. Both have won a cash prize of $200. Well done!
Wow! Naomi D did a fantastic job cooking up a frenzy making a fantastic freezer stockpile. She sure earnt herself a week off from cooking. Here is her winning blog post.
"Well, only a week or two left till our new bub is welcomed home so I have been cooking up a storm filling our freezers. It is now jam packed with hundreds of containers (each shelf is a few layers deep) of yummy food ready to heat in a hurry and feed our hungry family!"
"I hope cooking an extra meal or two for the freezer is going well for everyone else this month :)"
Colin's recipe is:Granny's old fashioned chicken and dumplings
This recipe is more or less a stew, but can be added to to make a soup. It is faintly British in style (i.e. the dumplings) but has become 'all-American' in style over the years. This recipe reminds me of my granny (who is still alive at 103!) because chicken is her favourite meat and she's always used the cheapest cuts to save money! She could give us all lessons on how to make a dollar stretch - she lived during the Depression and I think that taught her to be extremely resourceful.
- 1-3 kg chicken, skin on (whole or parts)
- 3-4 L of water (to cover chicken)
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 carrots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 whole onion
- 1/4 tsp dried sage
- 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 5-10 whole mixed peppercorns (if you don't like pepper leave it out)
- 1 cup frozen baby green peas
- 1/4 cup cream sherry
- 2 cubes chicken stock powder (optional)
Optional: The herbs are optional, but do make it taste better, as is the sherry. The alcohol in the sherry cooks out leaving behind a warm, rich flavour but if you don't have it, leave it out as well.
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk (preferably full cream but any will do)
- 3 tbsp fat (copha, butter, or other - I use butter)
Optional: You may wish to add a few pinches of pepper, sage, thyme, and marjoram to the dough, but if you don't care for them, leave them out.
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Large stock pot - holds approx 5 litres of liquid
- Lid may be used but not necessary
- Slotted spoon
- Large mixing bowl
- Microwavable jug
- Soup spoon for making dumplings
- Large spoon or ladle for stirring
- Wash your chicken and place into your stock pot.
- Fill the pot with water to cover the chicken but leave a good amount of space (2 inches or so) between the lip of the pot and the water so it won't boil over.
- Place onto stove top and turn on high. Add celery, 1 carrot, garlic, and your onion (unpeeled with roots cut off).
- Add herbs, salt, pepper, butter, oil, and bay leaves to your pot. Bring to full rolling boil, and turn down to simmer (medium-low to low heat). You may place the lid on at this point to keep steam from escaping, but leave it ajar so the soup won't boil over.
- Allow to simmer for 1 hour or a little longer. Turn stove top off for safety.
- Remove all the chicken and vegies from the pot, placing vegies aside (see notes below). I do this over the sink in case there's any spillage and it IS hot! I place the hot pot in one sink and an empty colander in the other. I slide a slotted spoon into the chicken cavity to remove the chicken in one go, but it sometimes falls apart, which is where the slotted spoon comes in handy.
- Plunge the hot chicken into cold water so you won't burn your fingers. Alternatively, leave it in the fridge to cool.
- Debone your chicken by removing all usable meat and placing it into a separate bowl. Discard any bones.
- Add the chicken pieces back to the pot - I usually shred mine, but you can leave it in large chunks if you wish.
- Turn stove top to medium, add peas and your thinly sliced second carrot. Bring back to a boil and turn down to simmer again. By this time the water will have reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. You don't want any less than 2 litres left so add some water if needed to bring back to this level.
- Add sherry.
These are simple drop dumplings so the batter will be thick and gooey, wetter than bread dough and will need to be pushed off the spoon into the pot.
- Sift your flour into a large mixing bowl, add baking powder, salt and herbs if you wish.
- Pour your milk into a microwavable jug and add the fat. Heat in your microwave for about 1 minute or until fat turns to liquid and mixes with the milk.
- Pour slowly into dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a spoon until all dry ingredients are incorporated and wet.
Combining the two
- Make sure the stock is simmering well with little bubbles coming up all round - almost a boil but not quite.
- Spoon up a spoonful of batter, push it off the end of the spoon with your finger into the stock. It should float right back up to the surface, if not, increase the heat a little. Continue spooning batter into stock until all batter is gone. You can adjust the size of the dumplings as you wish. Some like them large golf ball size and others like them smaller. It's your choice. If this is your first time, try a few of each and see which you like.
- Once all the dumplings are in, stir well and continue to stir and cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. If you want to be sure, cut a dumpling open with a butter knife. It should look fluffy on the inside, white and wet or slick on the outside. It should not taste like raw flour. If so, cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- Taste the stock to see if more salt or pepper is needed. If it is too thick add some water - if it becomes too watery add another cube of chicken stock and cook until desired consistency is reached.
This is a 'taster's choice' type of meal. You make it to your own taste adding or subtracting when and where you like, but that also makes it quite versatile. If you like more carrots and less peas, do that! Or add other vegies to your liking. Just don't leave the chicken out! I tend to put this on early Saturday or Sunday mornings and it's done by lunch, takes little effort or watching, too.
You can get fancy and buy your stock, or make it for pennies if you wish. Making it takes a little longer but is well worth the effort in my book. If you already have chicken stock made you can use that for a much richer stock or you can add a chicken frame or two to the pot! Chicken bones render much more flavour to soups than does the meat. You can roast the chicken frames (not the whole chicken with meat) and vegies beforehand for an hour at 180C. Adding these to the pot makes it wonderful and adds a different depth to the flavour. So try it, experiment with it and see what you come up with that you and your family like.
This meal can be reheated on the stove or microwave and is usually better when eaten the second day after cooking! It can also be cooked in a slow cooker, adding the dumplings and cooking on high for another 45 minutes. It can be frozen too.
I generally mash up the celery and carrots to go into my dog food, but it could be used in baby food as it will be so soft. Discard the rest.
Trying to convey this dish for others is hard as I've always cooked by sight, taste, feel, and that ephemeral bit of intuition that grannies seem to imbue their apprentice grandaughters with. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to be able to cook it nor does it take much skill. It does help if you know how you like things to taste! This SHOULD taste like a warm, rich, chicken stew, with lots of little bits of soft bread to make it all the more filling.
*I did have to estimate the cost of this dish due to the fact that I buy chicken in bulk, but with pantry ingredients this should cost no more than $15! And generally around $10 or less.
5. Best of the Forum: Stashing it Away
We just love the way members are always ready to share their secret ploys to save money throughout the year! These clever ideas make saving money easy and painless.
Wise Owl is one wise lady indeed! In just seven months she managed to save over $1230 for her holiday - all of it in 50c coins! Learn how she did it here.
Maria just had to share this story after reading of an incredible woman in the UK who successfully managed to live for a whole year on just one pound a day! Read all about it here and be inspired too!
Sometimes you need to spend out a little in order to be able to save a great deal more long term. LizzyLoo considers her chest freezer to be one of her best investments and asks other members to share theirs too in this fun and interesting thread.
It doesn't have to be just in June! These members have discovered that taking your own lunch to work is saving thousands every year. Grab some handy ideas for lunch here.
Don't let the recession get you down! Join this merry group of enthusiastic SS'ers for friendship, support and a good few laughs along the way.
6. Best of the Vault: Hidden Surprises
You never know where extra cash is lurking! These tips from the Savings Vault will soon have you hunting around for new ways to save!
The hidden cost of magazines
It took me only two years to save a deposit for my first flat - all because I stopped buying and reading magazines. The obvious savings came from the cost of the magazines; I was buying Cleo, Cosmo and New Idea. What I hadn't counted on were the follow-on savings, and I wish I had done it sooner.
I was no longer persuaded by the glossy advertising. I stopped buying make up, clothes and household gadgets that I simply didn't need but felt compelled to buy. The message I got from these magazines was that something in my life was missing, even though it was fine. Fifteen years later I am doing really well but my two friends continue to spend frivolously on make up and clothing - I wonder if it has anything to do with the piles of magazines in their homes.
Save thousands with an empty wallet
The easiest way to save thousands every year is to avoid spending on your cards or using your EFTPOS savings. Instead, use a bus pass holder to keep your license and a few dollars for your day's needs (for example, transport, coffee and so on) and leave all your cards at home.
I have saved thousands of dollars with this strategy as I have a tendency to be an impulse shopper. If you do find an item that you really must have - just ask the shop to put it on hold for you. They should be happy to do this.
You will also find that when you walk away from a purchase and have to think about it for a day, you usually do not buy! The vast majority of purchases are impulse buys.
Even when you go to the supermarket, just take the amount of cash you want to spend on groceries that day. This forces me to stick to my budget. I do sometimes leave a $20 note hidden in my car for emergencies, but I make sure to hide it in the boot under the spare tyre so it is not easy to access except in an emergency!
Make money from your spare room with Crashpadder
A fantastic website has helped us pay an extra $800 off our mortgage! With rising interest rates we had been thinking about letting our spare room out to earn some extra money. We had previously rented it out to a friend for several months, but as it is also our guest room and we frequently have guests staying with us, this was not really ideal. I decided short term accommodation for travellers would be best, as we could charge a little more for the room (to cover such things as electricity, Internet and so on) and we could just do it when it suited us. We hoped to meet some interesting people, and make a little bit of money along the way.
A little online research later and I discovered the fabulous website www.crashpadder.com set up for exactly that reason! We registered, and have now rented the room for a whole month to a lovely English couple, earning an extra $800 to put towards the mortgage for that time. Crashpadder has a feedback system too, so you can rate places you stay, or people that stay with you. I can't wait to see it get as big here as it is in the UK!
Do a $21 Challenge in your bathroom cupboard
Apply the same principle of the $21 Challenge to your bathroom products! Over the years I have received many little gift packs of body lotions, body washes and the like. I've always put them away, thinking 'because they are small, these will be good to use when we go away on a holiday'. However, the quantity I had far outweighed the amount I needed for any holiday! So I did a complete clean out and gathered all of the body washes, shampoos and such together. I used a clean, empty 250ml handwash pump bottle and poured all the little bits of body wash from the mini containers into it. I also did the same with other bottles for my shampoo and conditioner. I am saving heaps on buying body wash and shampoo by finally using what was just sitting around the house!
The 'better you' budget
I have stumbled upon the perfect budgeting tool which costs me nothing and helps me save a fortune! I had a huge mental block regarding frugality until I started using this mantra to help keep my money in my pocket. Before I make a purchase, I ask myself the following question:
WILL THIS MAKE ME A BETTER ME?
Will a new top make me a better me? Will an iced coffee make me a better me? If not, I don't need it. I have found this to be a great antidote to wasting my money. Now I can focus on what my values are, what my priorities are, on what is really important to me. I'm no longer feeling deprived and am spending my money wisely. Try it - it really helps!
7. $21 Challenge - Read Chapter 2 Free!
We thought it was about time we gave you a wee update on the $21 Challenge book! This month we have been enjoying some fantastic reviews. A big thank you to KiwiParent magazine and also The Sensible Sisters for giving us a plug and saying such wonderful things about The $21 Challenge! Click here to read the Sensible Sisters review, or here to read the KiwiParent feature.
Exciting stuff - but that's not all! For the first time, both the first AND second chapters of the $21 Challenge book are available to read online, absolutely free! Sharing them with your friends couldn't be easier, as not only are they available to read on the Simple Savings site, you can also read them on our brand new Facebook page!
The first chapter has always been available for preview but we decided to make the second chapter free because when Jackie was touring around libraries talking about the $21 Challenge, she discovered that people couldn't stop talking about the second chapter of the book. They said it really inspired them and made them want to save money. We thought that was fantastic but even more so, we thought it was really important that everyone could read that chapter, so that we can help as many people as possible. So check it out and tell your friends too!
You can purchase the whole $21 Challenge book here!
8. Savvy Cook Showcase: Tristan's Terrific Techni-coloured Taters
This month's Savvy Cook is none other than two-year-old Master Tristan Lippey! You would think after having four kids I would know better than to leave a two-year-old alone with a piece of flat bread, a bottle of tomato sauce and a jar of sprinkles while I changed Elora's nappy. While my back was turned, Tristan took it upon himself to make a sprinkle and tomato sauce sandwich. I almost growled at him, 'What have you done?!' Fortunately my brain kicked in and I said to myself, 'I want this child to learn to be independent. I want him to learn to cook, I want him to experiment!' So instead of growling, I applauded, 'Well done! Tomato sauce and sprinkles - very creative! Now, do you mind if I put those sprinkles away and come back with the camera?' As you can see, he was very proud of himself!
Tristan loves to cook. He particularly loves cooking with sprinkles and that is how we have ended up featuring one of his own original recipes in this month's Savvy Cook Showcase!
One evening, Tristan was helping me to bake potatoes. I asked him to sprinkle the salt - but all he heard was 'SPRINKLES!', so now we have a new favourite family recipe!
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1.5kg potatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- Sprinkles (Hundreds and Thousands)
- Baking tray
Turn your oven on to 200 degrees. Then grab your baking tray and pop your oil and potatoes in it. Roll potatoes around so they are covered in oil then sprinkle with salt and 'SPRINKLES!' Pop in the oven for an hour.
Keep sending your recipes in for your chance to win our monthly cash prize of $100! We know there are heaps of Simple Savers who enjoy cooking with their children. What are your kids' favourite recipes? What recipes do you cook with them and how much fun do you have? Send them into us here!
9. Penny's Blog: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Jun 22, 2010
Darn it, I can still barely squeeze a loaf of bread into my freezer, it's so full! I've decided I'm going to make a head start on July's challenge instead, to save $50 a week on our expenses. As it turns out, I'm already half way there this week! Even if it was by accident. Rugby season is well underway again and Liam asked me yesterday if we could please add the Rugby Channel to our Sky TV subscription. As it was being advertised for only $1.00 extra this month I agreed and rang Sky to request the new addition. I had been moaning about the increasing price of Sky for some time and to be honest it's always been a bit of a bugbear of mine. I hate paying so much money to watch TV - especially when we only watch a couple of the channels. As far as I'm concerned all it does is encourage people to waste their time watching more TV! However, the males of the house insist it is an essential, as otherwise we wouldn't be able to watch most of the live sport year-round. Oh what a shame that would be...
Anyway! So I rang Sky and got a very nice, helpful lady. I told her what I wanted and while on the phone I thought I would just check to make sure that we were only paying for the basic package and not paying any extra for things that we didn't want. Thank goodness I did - turns out we were paying almost $25 a month extra for two channels we didn't even know we had! The bloomin' cheek of it! 'So haven't you even watched the Country Channel?' the lady giggled at the other end of the phone. 'No we have not! Or the Rialto Channel either!' Needless to say she cancelled both of these for me quick smart but I was pretty miffed to think how long we had been paying for these via direct debit, blissfully unaware. It's not the first time this has happened either, so I urge any NZ customers to ring Sky and check you are only paying for the channels you want and actually use. Who knows, maybe it will help with your $50 challenge for July too!
It certainly hasn't been a good week for phones in our house. My trusty mobile phone died abruptly and was unable to be resuscitated and Liam's got stolen out of his school bag. This was precisely the reason why we have never allowed him to carry more than the most basic phone. All students know the risks of taking their phones to school but it's still a horrible thought to think that some lowlife has been ferreting through your stuff. Still there's always a positive I suppose. In Liam's case, he found a new phone which houses not one but two SIM cards, on Trade Me. This means that, no matter which plan his friends are on, he can always get the best deal when he texts or calls them! Whilst my replacement phone isn't as technically advanced as Liam's, it's actually helping me become more organised, which is of huge value to me! I borrowed Liam's old phone for a few days when mine died (before his got stolen!) and discovered it had a calendar / to-do list type function, which pops up each day on the screen. Being the type of person who would forget her own head if it wasn't stuck on, I found this absolutely invaluable! When I replaced my own phone I enquired if the one I was looking at had the same function and it did. As another bonus it also had $150 off the usual price - done deal! Since then, I haven't forgotten a single thing! Unlike a diary, notebook or pieces of paper, which I inevitably put down and leave somewhere, together with all my reminders, I carry my phone with me all the time. Now I can type in my appointments days in advance, as well as any chores, shopping items or whatever. Already I can tell this wee gadget is going to save me a fortune!
Also, I can't remember if I told you this already or not but I have recently given up wine. Yes, really! Hard to believe after all these years but I have finally cracked it. Which means I am doing even better than I thought on my $50 challenge! As with so many of these things like smoking or whatever, when you give them up you don't always realise how much you're actually saving when it's just sitting in the bank. However, even if I haven't noticed the difference in the bank balance yet, I've certainly noticed the difference in the recycling bin! I only have to go to the recycling station once every two or three weeks now, instead of every week! That's got to be good! I wonder where else I could save?
I could always be like Liam I suppose and not spend a single cent at all. At 13 he currently has over $2500 in his 'car fund' for when he is old enough to drive. Just the other day he put $500 into it from his pocket money account. 'I figured I might as well, there's nothing else I need,' he reasoned. That's after he bought himself a replacement phone too! Noel can't understand how he does it - to him it looks as though Liam's always buying things but on the contrary, he's only looking. There's nothing wrong with dreaming! On the rare occasion he does buy something, he usually goes and sells something on Trade Me to make up for it. He refuses point blank to buy anything he doesn't need and only buys things which he knows will have a good resale value. I reckon there are a lot of adults out there who could learn from this kid!
Mind you, he's not really that much of a kid any more. He might only be 13 but he is at least 15cm taller than me! I posted a photo of him on Facebook this week and a lovely member called Linda commented how nice it was to see the boys growing from toothless boys into young men. I realised that she was right - I've been writing my blog for over five years now and they've definitely changed a bit! This is how they looked at the start, aged six and eight.
And this is how they look now!
Liam, aged 13
Ali, aged 11
I guess you could call them my own hidden gems! And talking of gems (oh, Penny, you're so slick!), this is one gem which should never be hidden. Now usually I'm in no position to tell anyone to spend money but this one is special so I'm going to tell you all about it anyway. For a long time, Forum members have followed the courageous story of an adorable girl called Imogen, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was just a wee tot. Time and time again our hearts have gone out to Immie and her amazing family as they battled on and prayed for a happy outcome. Sadly, however, Imogen passed away in May, just a few days after her sixth birthday. Life can be so unfair but Immie will never be forgotten and remains in the thoughts and hearts of many members. I discovered by chance that Imogen has a very talented grandmother, who makes the most beautiful ladybird jewellery, inspired by Immie. Part proceeds of each sale go to the Children's Cancer Institute. Each piece of jewellery is bright and beautiful, just like Imogen herself! I treated myself to a cherry tomato coloured ladybird pendant and proudly wear it every day. I adore it and think it's worth every cent and much more!
8th - Top of the world
18th - Murphy's Law
10. Homeopathy Corner: Kitchen Cupboard Cures
Everyone loves good old fashioned cures from their kitchen cupboard. They're so cheap, easy and effective and you don't even have to leave the house! Fran Sheffield has added another installment to her Kitchen Cupboard Cures series. Before you go rushing off to the chemist, check out some of these tried and true quick fixes for everyday ailments such as: acne, cough, digestive upsets, bad breath, stomach ulcers, arthritis, cold sores, congested throat and diabetes.
11. From Last Month: Coping as a Carer
Last month Bianca asked:
"Hi everyone, I am a single mum with two kids aged 13 and 9. My eldest boy has recently been diagnosed with Asperger's and he is not coping at high school. I am facing the likelihood of becoming his full time carer and undertaking distance education to get him through. Does anyone have any experiences that they would be willing to share about managing financially as a carer?"
Sincere thanks to everyone for sending in your fantastic, helpful responses. It's great to know there is so much help and support out there for families like Bianca's! We received so many brilliant suggestions that unfortunately we are unable to print them all here, but here are a few of them. We wish Bianca all the best and hope that she - and others too - will find this information helpful.
Ask what your school can do for you
As the mother of a high school child with Asperger's I recommend the first thing you need to do is speak to the school. Your child will be entitled to funding support. Ask them what they can do for your child, speak to the counsellor. Have a plan drawn up with the year advisor, department representative and deputy. Identify the specific areas your child struggles with. If it is organisation, sensory, social or behavioural strategies, make them organise it. Consider breaks from class, dropping non-essential subjects and having a calm place to unwind. If you have no success, find another school. It is very hard for Asperger's children to integrate but they need that social experience, as painful as it is. They can learn to cope and the longer they are sheltered the harder it becomes. I can also highly recommend Tony Attwood (www.tonyattwood.com.au) and Sue Larkey (www.suelarkey.co.nz) for helpful advice, training and resources.
Simple Savings will get you through
Pension and allowance are not a large amount for full time carers but you can get by if you live the Simple Savings way. My husband and I are full time carers for two very disabled children. Our boys don't sleep all night so we take it in turns to go without sleep but my hubby bought a boat (a small tinnie) so he can get out and enjoy a well-earned break when needed. My advice to any fellow carers is first and foremost, get rid of as much debt as possible. We sold our house and bought an older style home in a small town near a great special school. Any extra money was put into an account to help out in the future.
Savings and support for full time carers
If you are using distance education, make sure you apply for medical exemption. Here in QLD if your GP writes a letter stating that you have medical reasons for using distance ed, you can save thousands in fees.
Using home schooling can also help with food costs. I noticed when my daughter was home she only ate lunch and maybe one snack. When she is at school the luchbox is full of snacks and sandwiches! Leftovers can be reheated at home.
Get involved in your local support groups; you will be amazed how many others are in your situation and have some handy hints to get by. It also helps that these are friends who are in the same boat as you are and will do budget friendly things with you.
I meet up with friends in the park once a week for our takeaway treat. On my pension week I shout the $10 of chips for everyone to share, and on their week, (my off week) they shout. It's a cheap treat and we eat together and then play games on the beach.
Also, make sure you apply for a Commonwealth Carer's discount card. I save up to 20% at various retailers just by showing the card. Similarly when you need to get handymen or a gardener in just ask if they can give you a pension discount. You will be surprised how many will gladly oblige.
Create your own educational program
I am a full time carer for my adult daughter. I am a trained special education teacher and have created my own program for her. To source materials I often use the $2 store for workbooks, as well as various educational materials. With Asperger's it is important to establish a consistent program that builds as you go. Also, constant praise ('well done, good job!') is important. We live on a small amount of money and have found it beneficial to cook healthy meals at home, use public transportation, pay off debts and not create new ones save for emergencies, and find fun, free or low-cost entertainment. It is also important to get daily exercise. Look into Special Olympics and don't forget the great outdoors!
Kinesiology can help with learning difficulties
If you have a child with a learning difficulty or condition such as Asperger's, it is worth looking into Brain Gym or Kinesiology as a form of natural treatment. My 13-year-old daughter was somewhat overwhelmed earlier this year as she commenced Year 8. After one session of Brain Gym the stress in her face was gone within 24 hours. She is focusing better in class and with homework. I also do the PACE exercises with my daughter, which you can learn about and much more at the website www.braingym.org. I wish we had found Brain Gym during primary school!
Relax! It will be OK!
My biggest advice to carers of children with special needs is relax! I was a carer of two medically disabled children, one with Asperger's and both with life threatening issues. They had to be home schooled because they simply didn't fit; even in distance education. However, both my children did well. One is now a security officer and the other is married with a child of her own and working and doing her diploma in child care.
Distance education will supply most of what you need. Put money aside each fortnight for school items and shop at the cheap $2 style shops. Remember with no peer pressure it means you can use second hand and cheap stuff! Who cares what your things look like when you are at home with no one to see them?
Pencils and stationary can be shared. One pile of paper and one pencil case kept in a general study area means one expense for you. We are never given a problem we can't solve. It will be OK!
12. This Month's Help Request: Share the House, Halve the Cost?
This month Sylvia asks:
"I am a widow and have had a male friend for three years. We live in separate houses and take it in turns to cook for each other every other night. We go away on holiday together and get along fine. We are both on a pension and finding it is getting tougher and tougher to stretch our money from payday to payday. My friend keeps suggesting that we should live together as it would basically halve our expenses but as well as the thought of giving up my independence, I am a little concerned with the legal aspect of setting up home together.
"His idea is to sell his house and move in with me. However, I'm not sure what would happen were I to pass away first (I am 67, he is 71). My own house is left to my family and I am worried that after two years, he and his family could legally be entitled to half of everything should I die before him. Although we would be living together, our friendship is only platonic and neither of us would dream of using the other's money or assets to our own advantage. However, the savings would be so great at around $1000 a month that I am starting to feel it is worth giving some serious thought. I would really love to hear any advice members could give on how we could make this living arrangement work legally, as well as anyone who has possibly been in a similar situation!"
If anyone has any suggestions or experiences which could help Sylvia, please send them in to us here.
13. Savings Story: Live Like Kings on Op Shop Budget
Our family is living proof that with a sensible outlook and good, honest hard work anything is possible. Our 'ugly duckling' house has gone from being the worst house to the best house in the street. Unfortunately the cost of renovating and extending it cut into our interior design budget. However, we discovered that we could still furnish our dream home beautifully on a reduced budget by settling for second hand items.
For example, our curtains are fully lined and are gorgeous! One window was not a standard size and the quote for its curtains alone was $1500. Instead I found a perfect set at the op shop to fit our huge window for only $40! We have now finished the curtaining for a total cost of $250, saving us $5000 on the original quotes. We have also bought stunning soft furnishings such as cushions, throws and floor rugs, again from op shops. Furniture we have picked up either second hand, from op shops or passed on from family. We have painted and scrubbed these pieces and now have a very up to date 'beach/country chic' look, all for little cost. The house is now finished and it looks stunning inside and out. We have Edwardian steamer chairs outside on the balcony bought for $2.00 each from the op shop. What a bargain! Our friends and family are amazed.
We now go to op shops first for all of our clothes. Our teenage kids really appreciate their 'brand name' bargains, such as polo shirts for $8.00 where the normal price would be $100 and many other items. I recently bought my husband a brand new dinner suit on 'half price day' for $7.50! When you buy from op shops you pay cash - no credit card debt for us!
Every spare cent goes into paying off our mortgage and the house is almost paid off. We have worked hard doing a lot of building and landscaping work ourselves, as well as the interior, to save money. We live like kings but our outgoings are carefully calculated. We have taught our kids the benefits of hard work, and sensible spending. We are very proud of our lifestyle and the happiness it has brought us.