"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - January 2011
This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Going 'Without'
- February is No Spend Challenge!
- Best Member's Blog: This Month's Winner
- Best of the Forum: Feel Great About Not Spending!
- Best of the Vault: No Spend Month Motivators
- Cooking with Mimi
- Penny's Blog: Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk
- Homeopathy Corner: Grief and Trauma
- From Last Month: Holiday Food for Hungry Teens
- This Month's Help Request: Too Many Tomatoes
- Savings Story: Working Mums Get the Balance Right
How are you doing? I hope you haven't been affected by a flood, cyclone, earthquake, bushfire or a tornado this month. OK, well I don't think any of us had to battle a tornado! Jokes aside, I hope you are well. Simple Savings and our staffers pretty much escaped the floods unscathed. A few of us went without power or had extra house guests, but we are all well.
A couple of days ago, Matt, the kids and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. As we all gathered around the cake, Matt and I looked first at each other, then at the four excited faces staring at us, then back at each other - and realised those four adorable faces weren't there ten years ago. Simple Savings wasn't here ten years ago. It has been a very busy, exciting and fun ten years. Thank you for being part of it and coming on our journey with us. It has been a ball!
"To the team at Simple Savings, you guys are simply fantastic! I love, love, LOVE reading your newsletters, they are so inspiring. I may only be 17 years old but your tips are so useful even for me! I am currently saving for a deposit for my first home and I know that once I achieve that goal I can still use all your helpful hints to help me pay off my mortgage faster and keep loving a great life as a Simple Saver! You have so many tips and useful ideas that you should really write another book with lots of the stuff from your newsletters and the Vault in it! I know I would be one of the first to put an order in. Keep up the good work." (Jessica Kilsby)
"Just wanted to say thanks for always bringing me back on track. I've just had a read of the articles in the Vault for keeping credit card debt under control and immediately applied online for a low rate balance transfer for my current credit card debt. Repayment of the total balance will now occur sooner thanks to a very low interest rate for the first 18 months." (Kerry Bebendorf)
"Just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your site. I have been receiving the free newsletters for a while now and finally bit the bullet and joined the Vault last night through your $37 special. I must say I wasn't sure about joining as there is so much great info and tips in the newsletter I was questioning myself if it would be worth it but I wanted to know what was hidden in there. Well I am so glad I joined. There is so much great stuff. I have spent nearly one whole day scouring the site. I love the Forum and all the hints and tips. I still have so much more to read. What a fantastic idea and I love the fact that many of your members are so pro-active by posting comments/replies and links to great deals. Thanks again and Happy New Year." (Wendy Ashcroft)
"I just wanted to let you know that we have recently survived the Brisbane floods. During the four days of being stranded in our home without power, I often thought of what a life changing experience your book and site has been. It was truly sad to feed the contents of our family meals to the chickens, but heartening to know that we will have eggs each day. When the power came on, we made some bread, and whilst others are without essentials our new focus on a simpler life means we will recover sooner than expected, and be back to replanting the garden. So, many thanks to helping us through the process." (Kim Aitken)
All the best,
1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Going 'Without'
"Oh heck, we've run out of dip!" groaned Pete as he peered into the fridge. "Sal! Can you get some more French onion dip next time you go shopping?" "You'll have to wait a while!" grinned Sally. "It's No Spend Month remember? We can only buy what is absolutely essential - which doesn't include dip. Dip is a luxury item. Sorry!"
"Yes but it doesn't apply to me and my dip!" Pete said indignantly. "I don't need help to stop spending. You know I love French onion dip! It's my nightly treat. And it's such a small luxury. Can't we bend the rules a little? The kids don't need to know," he wheedled. "Oi! We heard that!" came two indignant voices from the lounge. "No chance, Dad. If we have to follow the rules, so do you!"
"Oh great," Pete rolled his eyes in defeat. "Guess that's it then. I'm going to have to go without for a whole month." "Honestly, Dad, don't be such a girl's blouse!" Sarah walked into the kitchen. She went to the pantry, grabbed a packet of French onion soup and a carton of sour cream and quickly mixed them together in a bowl. "Here's your dip. See - you don't have to go without," she winked. "Try thinking outside the square next time!"
2. February is No Spend Challenge!
Just like Pete, some of us have a very warped view of what is an essential item! We all have little luxuries which we claim we can't live without. Mine is tea (we grow our own coffee but not tea. Only because every time I go to buy a tea plant they've run out). Penny swears she can't function without her nightly glass of wine. But it's amazing what we can survive without when we try. The great thing about doing a No Spend Challenge is that it removes your blinkers and helps put things back into perspective. It helps you to distinguish between a want and a need and helps you to see how much money we throw away on things which frankly just don't matter.
What sort of luxury items do you confuse with being an 'essential?' Take a look at this list of examples. How many of them do you regularly buy that you could live without, if push came to shove?
- Takeaway food of any sort, including coffee
- Lollies or chips
- Soft drinks
- Clubs (for example, music and book clubs)
- Frozen dinners
- Movies or DVDs
- Fancy brands
- Bought cakes
- Pre-made food
- Ice cream
- Beauty products
- Online shopping
- eBay / Trade Me
- Perfume and make-up
- Plants and garden decorations
- Raffle tickets and Lotto
- Alcohol and other drugs
- Bottled water
And so the list goes on. Last time we drew up this list we had people handing it round the office. What were essentials? What couldn't people go without? Everyone's responses were different. 'But I need my weekly magazines for the puzzles'... 'Nope, couldn't go without dip'... 'You mean you can make dip?' Yes, Pete isn't the only one who didn't know you could make dip! I used to think that if you wanted dip you had to buy it in a tub from the supermarket. Especially hommus. Now I am older and wiser and know I can make it myself from basic and much cheaper ingredients. This is one of the great things about No Spend Month; it teaches us to look outside the square. It teaches us to be creative. It forces us to use our brains. It helps us to break our addictions (yes, even the SS team!).
So this month, take a good look at the list above and see what you can go without during February. Even if you don't take part in the No Spend Challenge, look at the list and ask yourself 'Do I need these things? Or do I just want them?' Think about what you normally spend on these items and how much money you could save in a single month if you went without them. The No Spend Challenge is an opportunity to re-assess your life. We think so many things are important when in truth, they just aren't.
Make sure you write in and tell us how your No Spend Challenge went! We would love to hear how much you managed to save and the changes you made. The No Spend Challenge has become an annual favourite among Simple Savers. If you want a good laugh, read through our No Spend Challenge newsletters of old! They continue great information about how to succeed on your challenge, some lovely articles by Sophie Gray, brilliant blogs by Penny and the Sally and Hanna stories are hilarious.
January 2008 - http://new.simplesavings.com.au/newsletter/2008/1/
February 2009 - http://new.simplesavings.com.au/newsletter/2009/2/
January 2010 - http://new.simplesavings.com.au/newsletter/2010/1/
Don't forget you can track your success with our free Savings Diary!
One of the great things about No Spend Month is that it's a fantastic way to save a truckload of money in just one month. How do we know this? So far, 4771 people have logged their savings in our free Savings Diary. Keeping a Savings Diary is a very important part of this challenge because it will show you how well you are going and help to keep you motivated. You will be able to look at it and say, 'WOW! Look at that! I saved $3000 this month. My gosh, I never realised I had been wasting that much money!'
You can make your own savings diary with a little note book, or you can use our online version which is free for all subscribers. No personal information such as bank details is given in this diary; it is simply a place to record what you spend each day and what you spent it on.
If you need more information come and join us in the Vault. There are 14,000 money saving tips to be found there and the Forum is always buzzing. If you have struggled to save money in the past, this is the place to go to keep you focused and moving in the right direction.
If you would like to become a member of the Savings Vault, it costs $47 to join for the first year and just $21 to renew each year. We also have a 365 day no questions asked guarantee, so if you do not like our members' area (as if! *grin*), you can have your money back. As an extra bonus for Vault members, we have also introduced gift memberships at a special price. From now on, if you are a current Vault member you can give your friends or family a full year of membership for just $21! Click here to order.
3. Best Member's Blog: This Month's Winner
One of the many benefits of being a Vault member is that you can win a cash prize of $100 each month for your Simple Savings blog! Starting your own blog on the site is easy. All you have to do is log into the Vault, click on 'My Desk' at the top left, then 'Your Blog'. Then get writing! We love reading all your money saving trials and tribulations and really appreciate the effort that goes into each one.
This month's winner is Kitty for her post '23 days alcohol free - one day it will be 23 days debt free too!' taken from her blog 'Debt free in five years'. It just goes to show what you can achieve when you start choosing needs over wants!
23 days alcohol free. Nearly at the end of the month and although there have been plenty of chances to raise a toast and have a glass of something, I have lost the urge completely. I just wanted to prove to myself that I have discipline in one thing! That one thing spreads to other things, hopefully!
It seems to take about one month to form a good new habit and the savings habit is almost that old too. Seems I also have developed a morning blog habit too. This seems to set my mind on track to make plans for each day. Putting something down in writing is making a commitment. No-one will judge my success or failure, but I know that I have told someone else, and that counts.
It is not easy to achieve a long term goal. Lots of us sign up for gym memberships, diets, investment schemes, etc at the beginning of the year and not many last out the first month, or even the first week. We are told that our aims are too ambitious and that we should aim lower and then build up. I don't agree with that. If we aim low and fail it is too easy to say, it didn't really matter after all!
Here's a few sobering facts:
- Most people do not (or are unable to) save enough for a comfortable retirement
- Most working couples would not be capable of living on the age pension (less than $26,000 pa)
- Very few of us exist without the use of credit cards and other short term debts
- Many of us eat too much, drink too much, smoke or indulge in habits which are harmful to our long term health
So, here is the plan. Hubby and I have set a five year plan in action. At the end of that period, we will be debt free, or as close to that as possible. We will have worked hard on our home-based business and it will be a saleable asset. We will sell that, and also by then our modest super will have increased. Then we will downsize, sell our home and buy a smaller, new one, with room to park a caravan. We then store all our belongings, rent out this home for 12 months while we travel all over, becoming grey nomads. After that, we will return, and invest some of our savings into starting up another micro business, until retirement age. (Another 5 year stint)
I could say, we will just do this until we are at retirement age, but I think 10 years is too long to see a reward, and the striving isn't intense enough to have meaning. I think unless every day is a challenge, you don't make progress. It has to be tough to make us stronger!
By the way - I have a break even figure on my computer where I record every transaction. The break even figure is current super value plus savings minus debt. Today's figure is -$83,094. That means, if we cashed the super and paid out the debt we would still owe the above figure. We should get to 0 after about 2 years. Sweet!
Congratulations Kitty, keep up the great work! To read more from Kitty, or any of our other members' blogs, click here
4. Best of the Forum: Feel Great About Not Spending!
There's no need to spend money to have the good life. Read how these members get through on limited funds and feel good about it in these inspiring threads from our Savings Forum.
Danielle is looking for areas to stop spending as she analyses her family's expenses.
Emma has made it public - she wants to stop spending! She wants to be accountable for every cent she spends so she has announced it in the Forum. Brilliant idea!
Judy is overwhelmed by a whole month of no spending so she attempts a no spend fortnight instead. Will her husband's DVD addiction get in the way?
Who says you have to spend money to be romantic? Yazza_Mattazz and her husband plan the perfect Valentine's Day picnic in this fun thread.
5. Best of the Vault: No Spend Month Motivators
No Spend Month might sound tough but it is one of the most popular challenges among Simple Savers because it's so rewarding. Here are some of our favourite tips from the Vault to get you in the mood for NOT spending!
Hubby gets into No Spend
After finally managing to convince my husband to try No Spend Month, he still needed a little encouragement. So I stick pictures of the 'dream things' he wants on the fridge, so every time he goes there he can see what we're doing this for.
After a bit of whinging about how stupid and hard it all was, he has finally come around and we now have No Spend Month every month! He didn't even spend money on my birthday present and made me some yummy cupcakes with ingredients already in the cupboard! I guess he really wants that fishing boat!
Re-acquaint yourself with your wardrobe
Before you hit the shops to splurge on a new wardrobe, check what you already have first! For a shopaholic like me who loves to buy clothes, shoes and accessories, this tip is essential to saving money. Every few months I find myself whingeing that I have nothing to wear, but determined not to spend any more money, I spend a few hours going through my clothes and re-acquainting myself with them. I soon realise I actually have clothes to wear and with the addition of some $2.00 accessories from bargain stores and a little experimenting with combinations, I end up with a whole new look for less than $20!
Leave your purse behind and stop buying things - it works for me. During my work breaks I would go out to the shops at least a few times a week and I find myself buying the odd magazine, getting a few groceries or just buying stuff. I would always take my lunch from home so it wasn't lunch purchases, this was more like the 'clog up your life with stuff' stuff.
One day I decided not to carry my purse with me to the shops, that way I could not spend what I didn't have. Now I just look around instead of shopping around. And it works - I find I spend so much less! I get back to work and have second thoughts about buying those things that just minutes before, I had felt were so important to buy.
Even when meeting a friend for the odd coffee I now take just enough money from my purse and put it in my pocket; again purse-free and I can't spend what I don't have. Guaranteed to work every time!
More tips for Vault members:
6. Cooking with Mimi
The long term effects of the recent floods that have devastated many areas of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are yet to be felt by those of us not directly involved.
One thing is for certain. The big supermarket chains will have to make some tough decisions on whether they stock local produce, some of which will be 'imperfect' and blemished, or whether to continue supplying consumers with the 'perfect' product we've come to expect, by importing our fruit and vegetables.
I grew up on a farm, and my vote would be for local produce, however blemished or imperfect. There are many ways of utilising produce that is less than pretty, by preserving, stewing, and turning it into jams, chutneys and relishes.
Maybe it's time to rediscover these old arts, using that which is still highly nutritious, but perhaps not as good-looking and shiny as we've come to expect in the modern supermarket era.
One way of turning a bowl of less than perfect fruit into a delicacy worthy of any table is by making your own jam. The bottles of brightly coloured spreads in the supermarket are far from real 'jam'. Once you've made your own, there'll be no turning back and the Jams and Spreads aisle will become another one you'll never need venture down again!
Jam making is as easy as 1-2-3. One kilo of diced and deseeded fruit, two lemons, and three cups of sugar are the only ingredients you'll need. You can use any combination of fruit in season, in any condition. Of course you can halve, double or triple those quantities, according to how much fruit you have on hand.
Seven Fruit Jam with Coconut and Vanilla
This is a microwave recipe and one kilogram of fruit is as much as you can conceivably microwave at one time without making a huge mess... take my experienced word for it!
- One large, deep microwave-safe bowl or jug, around 1.5-2 litre capacity
- Sharp vegetable knife for dicing and deseeding fruit
- Several sterilised recycled jars with the type of metal lid that has a little pop-up button in the centre. See note for sterilising instructions.
- Measuring cups
- Potato masher
- A chilled saucer and spoon for testing jam done-ness. Just pop them in the refrigerator before you start.
NOTE: To sterilise jars, wash well in hot, soapy water. Rinse in hot water. If they have a residual smell from the original contents, a teaspoon of vanilla essence in the rinse water will help disperse it. Do not dry with a tea towel. Put the oven on the lowest setting and place the jars upside down on a baking tray. Stand the lids, leaning on the jars. Leave until dry, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
- 1kg fruit, deseeded, and diced. (I leave grapes and blueberries whole and mash them a little with a potato masher. For this particular batch I used blueberries, seedless green grapes, passionfruit, a nectarine, plums that had gone soft, some leftover tinned cherries, and a couple of sad looking strawberries.)
- 2 lemons, halved
- 3 cups raw sugar
Optional for this particular recipe:
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
- 2 tsp coconut essence
Place the fruit into the microwave-safe container. Mash any berries or smaller fruit a little with the potato masher.
Juice the lemon halves and add the juice and the empty lemon halves to the fruit.
Add the sugar and stir well.
Microwave on high for 10 minutes at a time, stirring every five minutes.
After the second blast of 10 minutes, test the jam. Place a spoonful of jam onto the chilled saucer and allow to cool for a minute or two. Push it with the spoon, If it wrinkles like a piece of Cling Wrap, it's ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook on high for a further five minutes at a time, checking after each blast of five minutes. Depending upon the microwave, this can take up to 40 minutes altogether. Be careful as the jam will be very, very hot.
Once cooked, add the optional ingredients if you wish and allow to cool slightly.
Spoon the warm jam carefully into the sterilised jars. Fill the jars almost to the top, then screw the lid on very firmly and turn them upside down on the kitchen bench for five minutes. This creates a vacuum to seal the jars correctly for storing and makes the little pop-up button, pop 'in' as they cool.
Label with the date and a description and store in a cool place.
Home-made jam makes a great addition to a gift hamper and, along with a few other home-made goodies, gives you an endless supply of teacher, thank you and impromptu presents.
Mimi's Mum's Lush Home-Made Chocolate Syrup
Easter is not far away, and already the foil wrapped goodies are making an appearance in the stores. Why not do things differently this year? A bottle of this chocolate syrup with a hand decorated glass in a basket with a big ribbon on it would put a smile on anyone's face.
- Measuring cups
- Large microwave-safe jug or bowl, at least 1.5 litre capacity
- Sterilised recycled bottle or bottles for storing (sweet chilli sauce, tomato sauce and soy sauce bottles are all ideal). See previous notes on sterilising.
- 2 1/4 cups raw sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 tsp vanilla extract or essence
Combine the sugar and cocoa in the microwave-safe jug using the whisk. Whisk in the water until combined well and smooth. Microwave on high for four minutes, whisking every one minute.
Allow to cool and stir in the vanilla.
Pour into prepared bottles. Date and label for future use or gift giving. Keeps indefinitely in a cool place or in the refrigerator.
It's important to be able to survive on staples in our pantries in times of ill health, unemployment, unexpected expenses or, as it has occurred recently, times of natural disaster.
A well stocked kitchen cupboard is a true asset and one that shouldn't just be considered a Simple Savings strategy, but a sensible living strategy too.
Here's a fantastic, quick salad, using only pantry items, that's tasty enough as a meal on its own, as a side dish to take to a barbecue or a great healthy lunch for the kids' lunch boxes.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish, 4 as a meal
- Large strainer or colander
- Large spoon
- Small jug
- Small whisk or fork
- Container or bowl
- 1 tin beans or bean mix, for example, borlotti beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans or bean mix, drained well and rinsed in a strainer until the frothing subsides.
- 1 tin corn kernels, drained well
- 1 large tin of tuna or chicken in brine, drained well
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp mustard
- 2 tbsp honey, sugar or maple syrup
Tip all tinned ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with a spoon.
Put the remaining ingredients into a small jug and whisk with a fork or tiny whisk until combined.
Tip the dressing over the salad and mix well.
Refrigerate for one hour before serving to allow the flavours to develop.
This salad keeps well for up to four days, refrigerated and covered.
To vary, add to tossed salad leaves, add bacon or diced deli meat, or serve over baked potatoes.
7. Penny's Blog: Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk
Lately it appears I've had more in common than I'd like with one of my favourite movie characters, Austin Powers. For starters, we're both British, have crooked front teeth and share the same disturbing penchant for toilet humour. However, just as Austin famously lost his 'mojo', lately I appear to have lost mine. My money saving mojo that is. I guess with everything that's been going on the past few months it's impossible to be all things to all people. When the kids don't think they are getting enough attention they throw a tantrum. Come to think of it, when the husband doesn't think he's getting enough attention he throws an even worse tantrum! But unlike my family, my money saving mojo doesn't throw a tantrum or demand immediate attention. It just skulks in the corner, watching you make stupid mistakes, watching you throw good money away and saying nothing. Until one day you check the bank balance and almost have heart failure. 'Where's all the money gone? Eek, someone must have hacked into my bank account! Quick, check the transactions!' And realise to your dismay that there is no hacker. The only saboteur is you.
And you sit there, staring at the evidence in black and white, kicking yourself for every stupid thing you could have done differently. At which point there's not much you can do. There's no point beating yourself up; you just have to dust yourself off and move on. I've been through the scenario enough times to know! But one thing I've learned is that it's not hard to get your money saving mojo back. That's the stupid thing. As Fiona has said all along, saving money is SO easy when you know how. And I do know how - so I'd better get to it!
Of course the great thing about being Simple Savers is that we know how to save money faster than anyone else. Whilst other poor souls are struggling with complicated budgets and losing sleep because they don't know where to start saving, we just throw ourselves headlong into fun stuff like the $21 Challenge or No Spend Month. So that's exactly where our family is going to start next week. In fact, we're going to do both at once!
What I both love and hate about No Spend Month is that it makes you cringe sooo badly. Every time you fill in the Savings Diary and the little box which says 'Essential' next to each purchase doesn't get ticked I feel like a total plonker. No matter how small and insignificant the amount is, if it's not classified as essential when I enter it in the diary I feel like a failure. It's such a huge wake up call when you are forced to be accountable for the number of times you get sucked in every day! It's great for the kids too. They both have jobs and earn their own money and while it's not a huge amount, what they do with it is up to them. Most of the time they do pretty well; now we don't live near any major shopping centres all the big 'wants' such as video games have disappeared off their lists. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of their hard earned cash goes on Koola Bear frozen drinks and macadamia nut cookies from Subway! So they will be taking part in No Spend Month too and I think they will be surprised at how much their bank balances will have increased by the end of it.
As for the $21 Challenge, what can I say that hasn't already been said? What I love about the $21 Challenge is that every time you do it, it reminds you exactly what you are capable of. My favourite chapter of the book is actually Chapter 2, firstly because it was so unexpected; Fiona and I never dreamed the benefits of doing the Challenge would be so huge or so many but also because Chapter 2 acts as a memory trigger. I see what other people are achieving and it reminds me of what I have also been able to achieve in my own household and makes me strive to do it again. What with the Challenge AND No Spend Month, I reckon my mojo will be back to full power in no time!
Actually, for the first time ever it was Noel who suggested we do the $21 Challenge! So there you have it; for all the women who complain that their husbands would never let them do a $21 Challenge in a million years, you may be surprised! I can't say I blame him though; even with our extra storage shelves in the garage our tiny pantry is a total mess yet again. We can't find anything, we can't see anything, it's just a big jumble. So we're doing the Challenge to help us unearth what the heck is lurking in there and use it up so we can make some space and restore a little order.
One thing that Noel and I have both wondered out loud is that now we have achieved our dream of living in Whangamata and our lives (apart from the obvious as outlined in the last couple of posts) have become so much easier, am I going to run out of things to blog about? I would like to think not; I think it's purely because we've lost our mojo over the last month or two. When it comes to saving money there is always more you can do. Look at Lynda Hallinan, the author of NZ Gardener - she's inspired half of NZ to 'get growing' from her vegetable patch in urban Auckland. Moving to the beach is no excuse. If she can do it, so can we!
8. Homeopathy Corner: Grief and Trauma
Hardly a day goes by without a disaster making headlines somewhere in the world - they are an inescapable part of life and whether natural or manmade have always been with us.
Disasters cause physical and mental traumas. This month Fran shares with us economical remedies that homeopaths use around the world to help people through these tragic events.
To read Fran's article go to:- homeopathyplus.com.au/first-response-homeopathy-remedies-to-use-in-a-disaster
9. From Last Month: Holiday Food for Hungry Teens
Last month Jennifer asked:
"Help! School holidays are here and I'm already being eaten out of house and home by hordes of active teenage boys! They are all great kids who love hanging out at our place and I don't want to make them feel unwelcome, but constantly feeding extras is really hurting my food budget. I don't feel as though I can feed my own children and not the others when they are around so I always end up giving in and making food for everybody. If I tell them to fend for themselves for lunch they simply go into town and waste their money on takeaway, my kids included! Does anyone have any suggestions for cheap fillers I can have on hand or whip up quickly so we can all save money?"
Wow! This request received one of the biggest responses ever! Unfortunately there's no way we can print every tip we received but a big thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute. Don't forget there are also heaps of terrific snack suggestions in the $21 Challenge book too! *cheeky grin*
Super cheap noodles from Asian store
It pays to check out your local Asian supermarket if you have hungry teens to feed! My local store sells big packs of 30 two-minute style noodles for under $15. They are tastier than the ones from the supermarket; a little more spicy. At less than $0.50c per pack, even when my teenage son cooks up three packs at a time for a snack, they're still cheap!
Send hungry teens to the supermarket
If you are being eaten out of house and home by hordes of teenagers and you know that they have money and can afford takeaway, why not suggest to them that they pool some of their money and send them into town to purchase some of the following to bring home and cook/eat?
- A couple of loaves of fresh bread
- A dozen bread rolls
- 1kg mince meat or sausages
- Bottle of tomato sauce
- 2 litres of ice cream
- A box of icy poles
- 2 litre bottles of soft drink
- 1kg grapes or other fruit
- Large packet potato chips
All of these could be purchased on special from the supermarket and are much cheaper than buying individual takeaways!
Stock up and they won't starve
Trust me, teenage boys aren't useless and they will never starve! When I had teenage boys boarding with me I found the best thing was to go to the supermarket about half an hour before closing time. All the bakery goods were reduced to $0.50c each and I would bulk buy for the freezer. This way I always had heaps of bread, rolls, cakes and buns ready to eat whenever. I also stocked up on tinned goods (on sale) that could be made into Jaffles or toasted sandwiches. I bulk bought the cheapest two-minute noodles I could find and would just use stock powder if no flavour sachets were included. I also showed them how to make their own pancakes and fritters. Once they learned that, they became pretty adept at helping themselves!
Simple food and plenty of it for happy teens
When feeding teenagers I find that they don't want fussy food - and unfussy food is always quick and cheap! I make a whole batch of mini pizzas and cocktail sausage rolls from scratch. I have a bread machine which is really quick and easy to use. With a single batch of pizza dough I can make up to 70 mini pizzas and with one tin of sausages and two sheets of frozen puff pastry, I can make up to 80 cocktail size sausage rolls. Teens love this kind of food!
Keep teens well fed with leftovers
I also constantly have a houseful of teenage boys, even though only one of my own is still living at home! I manage by getting creative with leftovers. For example, the leftover Christmas turkey became roast turkey and gravy rolls, turkey and salad sandwiches and finally, diced into a pasta sauce with some vegies from the garden. There was absolutely no waste. I buy almost everything on special, so two loaves of grain and wholemeal bread (low G.I. - keeps them full for longer!) for $4.00, a bottle of pasta sauce for $1.50 and a bag of pasta for $0.69c made the above meals very affordable.
A dozen eggs for $2.50 will make six good-sized omelettes. Add in a sprinkling of bacon, a little grated cheese and two slices of grain toast each and you have a hearty meal that will keep them satisfied for ages. A bag of rolled oats for $0.99c will form the basis of a mountain of Anzac biscuits and those soft bananas in the fruit bowl make great banana muffins. I recently bought a 2kg bag of potatoes for $2.00 and made baked, stuffed potatoes using a little bacon, onion, grated carrot, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and a touch of light sour cream. The boys love these and I used the leftover salad to make chicken burgers the next day.
I only have water to drink, so there's no cost for soft drinks, cordial and so on and as a commercial cookery teacher of many years, I have observed that behaviour is greatly enhanced by the absence of these beverages. Having said that, if I have the opportunity to purchase milk cheaply, milkshakes are a great filler and the protein will keep them satisfied. Rice pudding made with low G.I. basmati rice is another favourite. You might be interested to know that I insist on the boys cleaning the dishes and also on them taking turns to help with the preparation. It's a win-win situation as they're learning both social and life skills and I don't feel as though I'm a slave to someone else's children!
Sneak more vegies into your teenage male!
A good stretcher for lunch or dinner is savoury mince. Simply brown some mince and onion, then add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. A tin of baked beans will stretch it out, and a little Mexican chilli powder will vary the flavour. Any sauce bottles with just the last bit in the bottom can be rinsed out into the mix to add flavour too. Serve on toast with pasta or rice or mashed potato. A little grated cheese on top is nice and might distract the teenage male from noticing that there may be more vegetables than meat in his savoury mince!
Bread cases make great teenage hunger busters
Nothing beats bread cases for filling up hungry teens. So cheap and versatile! Great for using up that day- or two-day-old bread that's no longer sandwich worthy. Makes a great lunch box filler too! To make, simply cut the crusts off each slice of bread and spread the squares with butter or margarine. Place butter side down into a muffin pan and bake at 180C for around eight minutes until crisp. Once cooked, fill with your favorite topping, sprinkle with cheese and bake again until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted. Favourite topping ideas include tinned spaghetti, baked beans, bacon and egg, leftover bolognese sauce, in fact leftover anything really!
Teach teenagers how to use the breadmaker
My husband and I are raising five hungry sons. When they all lived at home it was easy to fall into the trap of 'instant' food for them as they tend to graze constantly. However, I taught the boys to keep the bread maker going all the time, so that when one loaf was cooked and cooling on the bench (not for long) the kid on the spot threw together the batch of ingredients to start the next loaf. Biscuits and cake do not fill hungry teens up but a constant supply of home-made bread does!
Frugal and filling food for teens
When feeding hungry teenagers, go for food that is filling and can be made with whatever leftovers you have in the fridge. American-style muffins are a great option - try this recipe from taste.com.au:
It's worth reading the comments at the bottom of the recipe for great ideas on variations on the recipe too.
Pies are another way to use leftovers for a filling meal for teenage boys - and you don't have to use much meat if you want to keep the cost down; just make sure there are plenty of vegies, especially starchy ones like potatoes or sweet potato. In warm weather, you can probably also take advantage of the BBQ and fill them up on plain old BBQ sausages in bread. Always a big hit with teens!
If they're hungry, they'll eat healthy!
When feeding extra kids, keep it simple. Often kids are 'hungry' for junk. However, carrot sticks with dip, cut up apples with cheese and general fruit and crackers are always a surefire hit. If they are hungry they'll eat it and not notice it's healthy. If not they stop asking and keep playing!
Super duper bumper breakout box for Vault members!
10. This Month's Help Request: Too Many Tomatoes
This month Kathryn asks:
"I would like some information on preserving or freezing tomatoes. I have too many in the garden to use and do not own a cannery or special jars. I made some pasta sauce last week and reused old pasta sauce jars. I am a mum of five kids, including six-month-old twins, so the ideas need to be fairly simple please. Thanks in advance."
Do you have a simple solution to Kathryn's excess tomato problem? You can send them in to us here.
11. Savings Story: Working Mums Get the Balance Right
I have been receiving your free newsletter for a few years now and have really enjoyed the information you share. Recently, however, I have noticed a trend towards the opinion that 'it is cheaper to be a stay-at-home-mum' and I wanted to share my experience.
I agree that it is important to empower families to find ways to have a parent at home to care for young children. There is no compensation for missing out on important milestones of our children, not to mention handing over our kids for someone else to care for and raise for vast portions of the day. Raising children is a parent's most important task! However, as a mother who now works part time I would offer a word of caution for your consideration. Women constantly judge one another for the choices other women make when it comes to parenting style and whether to work or not. We tear each other apart with our judgments. As a young stay-at-home-mum it took me a while to realise that other choices were not 'wrong' and that I was not 'right'. We just do things differently.
For me, working has not altered my ability to continue with money-saving practices and has actually saved us money. Let me share with you some examples:
- I work at my children's school. I only make one trip to and from school each day that I work, instead of two, which saves us money on petrol.
- Because I work, I am less inclined to go out for lunch or a cuppa with my friends.
- I continue to cook healthy meals from fresh, raw ingredients. If I am too tired my girls (who are 13 and 14 years old) are all too happy to help. I usually plan for one of them to cook a whole meal every couple of weeks. This way they are also learning vital living skills.
- My girls do a lot of our baking, ensuring that they always have lunch box snacks for school.
- My wardrobe for work crosses over with what I wear when I'm at home. Therefore I do not require expensive 'work only' clothing.
- I continue to menu plan. I began this practice in 1999 and for some silly reason have kept them all! I use previous year's plans as inspiration.
- I combine errands to do in one trip. We live in a semi-rural area, a half hour drive from the suburbs. We have a weekly trip down there for a kid's activity so I drop them off and get all my grocery shopping and other errands done in one evening. This saves me so much time and petrol. But it also means I'm not having to dash up the street for this, that and the other thing during the week.
- Working also means I don't have much time to shop. If it doesn't fit into my one weekly trip, it just doesn't happen. A huge money saver!
As you can see, being a working mum does not have to mean our family spends more money or makes less financially efficient choices. Even when I worked four very full days each week (last year) I was able to maintain the things that are important to us, as listed above.
Thanks again for sharing ways that we can be good stewards of our resources. You do a great job!