"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - June 2013
This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: All for a Good Cause!
- June: Lend a Hand
- Competition: Make a Difference to Someone's Life This Month
- Penny Wise: Feelin' Good!
- Best of the Vault: We Want YOU!
- Best of the Forum: A Friend in Need
- Best Members' Blog: The Future Looks Brighter Even if my Wallet Feels Lighter
- Hidden Gems: On The House
- Cooking with Mimi: Random Acts of Kindness and Volunteering... Comfort Baskets
- Claire's Corner: Senior Moments
- 50c Indulgences: Winter Time Delights
- Rob Bob's Gardening Blog: A Trip Away and Some Very Welcome Pickings From the Patch
- From Last Month: Funeral Plans
- This Month's Help Request: Natural Shampoo
- Goodbye For Now
How are you going? I can't believe it is June already and winter is here! We are working very hard on our next exciting project and I can't wait to share it with you in the next newsletter! Here's a small hint - imagine being able to cook a week's meals in an hour. Zip! That's all we're going to say! But for this newsletter, we hope you take an opportunity to look beyond yourself and lend a hand. Winter can be very cold for many people - and we don't mean just the temperature. Get out there and make a difference and don't forget to let us know!
We love receiving your emails and Facebook messages. Here are some of this month's favourites:
"I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the macadamia oil, even made my husband use it, and everyone else in the family. Pity I only learnt about this beauty secret recently, could have saved A LOT of money and my skin would have been in MUCH, MUCH better condition. Oh well, better late than never. Thanks again." ('Babyface')
"I'm really looking forward to more tips and information on saving, I can't believe what a difference the budgeting advice from the February newsletter has made to my family's finances already. Keep up the great work." (Bronwyn)
"A great site. Even though I am elderly and been through difficult times I still have learnt a lot. Ye Olde Shoppe is wonderful." (Barbara)
Have a great month!
All the best,
1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: All for a Good Cause!
"Brrr, it's freezing!" Sally rubbed her hands together and stomped her feet to keep warm. "What a day to hold a garage sale!" "All for a good cause, Sal!" Tom grinned. "At least the cold weather hasn't stopped people coming out. The sausage sizzle is doing a roaring trade and the last I saw of your kids they were dishing out pumpkin soup left, right and centre!"
"It's delicious too!" Chloe appeared behind Tom, holding a steaming cup. "Must get the recipe off you Sal. Isn't it wonderful to get the whole street together like this? Even the little ones are helping out." "Yes, they're so enthusiastic too - if Sarah had her way she would have donated ALL her toys!" Sally chuckled. "I have to ask though," Tom nudged her, "how on earth did you get Pete to part with his golf clubs?"
"He doesn't know!" giggled Sally. "He won't notice, he never used them anyway - oh hello love!" she said loudly as Pete sauntered up. "How are things going on the lucky dip stand?" "Busy! Just taking a quick break to check out the other stalls," he said. "Hang on - aren't those MY golf clubs? What are they doing there?! And what are you doing with my Hawaiian shirt? I love that shirt!" Tom burst out laughing, "There's only one thing for it mate, you'll have to buy them back!"
2. June: Lend a Hand
Pete may have lost the shirt off his back but at least it was for a good cause! And Sally's heart was in the right place - what a cool street to get together in such a way and make a difference. Of course you don't have to rally around your whole street to do something good; all you need is yourself!
Volunteering to help others doesn't have to take up a huge part of your time or need to be a grand gesture. It can take as little as five minutes to feed your neighbour's cat or drop off a meal to an elderly person or take a bag full of empty ice cream containers and toilet roll tubes to your local kindergarten for their craft projects (yes, I have done that and they love it)! We often THINK about helping out but how often do we get around to DOING it? This month, we're encouraging everyone to turn a 'should' into a 'good'!
Here are some examples of simple things you can do to make someone else's day:
- Invite that new mum from school round for a coffee
- Pop in and see a neighbour
- Volunteer for Meals on Wheels
- Spend a day helping out at the tuck shop
The great thing about doing a good deed for someone else is it's not just beneficial for them, it's beneficial for you too! Volunteering your time is a fantastic way to make new friends, learn new skills and fill a gap in your life. Best of all, it just makes you feel GOOD!
3. Competition: Make a Difference to Someone's Life This Month
We'd love to hear how you have made a difference to someone's life this month. It doesn't matter if it was a small, thoughtful gesture, a spur of the moment act of kindness or something BIG! Please let us know and we will choose three stories to each win $50 credit to spend in Ye Olde Shoppe.
The tissues are ready so get writing! You can submit your stories here.
Competition terms and conditions
This competition is being conducted by Simple Savings International Pty Ltd.
Entry into this competition is free. Each entry is required to address the competition conditions as set out above. The judges' decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
The prize is $50 credit to be spent in Ye Olde Shoppe.
This competition closes on 30th June and the winner will be decided by 15th July. Prize winners will be notified by email and published in the next newsletter.
4. Penny Wise: Feelin' Good!
Apologies if this post has little to do with saving money. Maybe it does, in a roundabout way but sometimes I just have to go with what is in my head and today's theme keeps popping up in my thoughts. One thing I have learned recently is that the sudden and unexpected loss of friends which occurs after a marriage break-up can be almost as painful as the loss of a partner. People naturally take sides, even when there were never any sides to take. I don't mind admitting it hurts. At first I thought, 'Stuff ya! I'll go and find me some new friends!' And I'm sure in due course I will, but on the positive side it has made me think long and hard about the kind of friend I have been over the years and shameful as it may be, I confess I haven't always been the best. It's not because I don't care - because I do! But everyone's lives are so busy and sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in your own little world that you don't always notice when someone else needs you. And let's face it, how long does it take? Most of the time no more than a couple of minutes, but the difference can be huge.
I've written a lot recently about the kindness of strangers but there is also much to be said for the kindness of friends and there are not too many people I know out there kinder than my friend, Rochelle. Years ago when my blog first started I used to write about her a lot. She is the mother of four gorgeous kids and it was Rochelle who first got me into running. We used to see each other every day and spent most afternoons in hysterical laughter on her lounge floor as we struggled to copy the gorgeous instructor in her Pilates DVDs. Sadly, she moved away several years ago when she achieved her dream of buying her own house and we're only really in touch a couple of times a year. But as she so rightly says, 'Just 'cos I don't see ya doesn't mean I don't think about ya!' and the same goes for me. I lost her number a while back when my phone died but I unexpectedly found it the other day so gave her a call. It was wonderful to catch up and it didn't surprise me at all to hear she was as busy as always. But in addition to looking after her family, she has also been looking after an older neighbour whose husband died 18 months ago and was left with very little money or support. Recognising that there were six members in her own family, but this woman had no one, Rochelle began popping in to visit her when she had a spare minute. They are now firm friends and any time this lady needs driving to an appointment or taken shopping, or just a listening ear over a cuppa, Rochelle is there for her. It didn't surprise me at all to hear what a lovely thing she was doing - but it made me think 'Wow, she is so busy, yet she STILL makes time for others'. And it made me take a good look at myself.
Everybody likes to feel special and appreciated. Everyone likes to feel valued. And I've realised over the last few months that it really doesn't take much to make somebody feel that way. For me, the most cherished support has come from the most unexpected of places. School friends who I haven't seen or heard of for 25 years have dropped me a line. I have received such wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement from Simple Savings members. And I'm enjoying being a good friend back. I wrote to tell a friend on the other side of the world how much her hilarious Facebook posts make my day and how I wish there were more people in the world like her. I wrote to tell another friend how her bravery and happy glow inspired me to make a new start and to thank her for giving me strength and encouragement. If I hadn't done this, neither of those wonderful strong ladies would have known how important they are to me. This morning I gave my neighbour, who has a bad cold, a big bag of mandarins from our tree. And you know what? It made me feel really good.
Best of all, however, was the feeling I got last week from helping a lovely lady who owns one of my favourite shops. Before now our relationship has been nothing but shop-owner to customer, or mutual mothers of teenagers. But a couple of weeks ago I went into her shop for a browse and found her alone. She was crying. She told me she had a lump in her breast and was trying her best to be strong and act like it didn't bother her but she was terrified. Even her husband couldn't get near her - but I could. I was able to tell her that, just like her my family had a dreadful history of breast cancer and that I had the same scare last year. I knew how the moment you know you have a lump, everything just changes. I understood the fear and the horrible waiting game but at the same time I was proof that it could be just nothing. I made her laugh when I told her how embarrassed I was to learn my lump was just a ball of fat! And I made her promise to keep in touch and text me if she needed anything. She did. I thought of her a lot over the next week or so and worried that perhaps I shouldn't have been SO positive or quite so encouraging. But I needn't have worried. I received a text from her last week out of the blue. 'Results just through. I'm going to live. Going to have a bloody big drink tonight.' And me, being the big old sook I am, burst straight into tears. Because, having known what she had been through, I was so, so happy and relieved for her - but not only that, I was so touched that I was one of the first people she thought to contact to share her happy news and so glad that I had been able to be there for her.
And I still don't know what any of this has to do with saving money but I'm going to keep up the effort to be more thoughtful of others. Rather than saving, I seem to be doing nothing but SPENDING money lately, what with builders' reports and the like as I wait in limbo for the next ten days for both the house I'm selling and the one I'm buying to go unconditional. I haven't packed a single thing yet, I don't want to jinx it! Roll on June 25th!
5. Best of the Vault: We Want YOU!
That's right - we want YOU to make a difference! You can make a difference to others' lives by volunteering with an organisation, school or charity or by simply taking the time to chat with a lonely neighbour. You can look after a friend's children so she has some time to herself, or help someone who just needs a hand. There are so many ways to make a difference - here are a few ideas from the Vault:
Give a bag full of happiness
For a super, low-cost, personal and heartfelt gift, why not give someone a Happy Bag? All you need is a plastic 'loot bag' such as those given away at children's birthday parties, and fill with the following:
- An eraser - so that you can make your mistakes disappear
- Five cents - so you can never say that you're broke
- A marble - in case someone says you've lost yours
- A rubber band - to stretch yourself beyond your limits
- A piece of string - to tie yourself together when things fall apart
- A bear hug (cut out teddy bear picture or motif) - to remind you that someone cares
Helping women in need to save
Recycle your outgrown baby and children's clothes and help women in need to save. While many diligent Simple Savers already sell their 'good' baby and children's clothes, what do we do with those that are unsaleable? Before you drop them into charity bins (where they are sometimes resold anyway), next time consider donating them directly to a women's refuge. Many women there are in desperate situations and not all are run by large organisations that have access to the charity bin goods. It won't make you any money, but it will bring a smile to another mum who wants the best for her baby too.
Most women's refuges are listed in the White Pages under the emergency help pages at the front. Phone them and they will advise you how to get the goods to them, as obviously security is an issue for these places.
Volunteer and experience events for free
Volunteering to help out at large events means I get to soak up the atmosphere for free! I love huge music festivals, but I don't love the huge prices to attend them, as many of them are now over $60 a time. So, this summer, instead of paying $175 for a three-day camping music festival, I am volunteering my time in two six-hour shifts at the festival. The work is fun, it will cost me nothing to attend the festival and I will save heaps more as I get free meals for each shift, free staff accommodation and even a free 'after event' party!
Grocery package for elderly person
To prepare you for Christmas this year, when you visit an elderly person's home (like a parent or grandparent or family friend) take note of what groceries they have in their cupboards; engage them in conversation about their favourite foods/meals (even if you have to have a sneak look in their pantry while they're in the toilet) and write down some non-perishable items in a notebook. When those items go on special, buy a couple of packets/tins and put them away. It's also best if the items are what you regularly use also, in case something happens to the elderly person (going into a home or whatever other reason) prior to Christmas.
You won't notice the extra $1.00 or $2.00 in your grocery bill and, by the time Christmas has arrived, you'll have their 'grocery package' ready. It'll save the person a lot of time and money going to buy these items, and they are something an elderly person can use. It's better than buying perfume for a grandparent who suffers from allergies or getting some writing paper for a person with bad arthritis or lollies for someone who doesn't eat sweets.
Even if you wanted to, use the mention of favourite meals and also include some frozen meals which you've prepared over the previous month so the elderly person doesn't even have to worry about cooking either.
Neighbourly chat strikes saving and friendship
Striking up a friendship with our neighbour is saving us $2100 a year! We are a family of six living on one wage so going on holiday is expensive enough without the $700 cost of putting our dog, cat, chickens and other pets into care while we are away. My husband suggested asking a neighbour if she would watch our pets and house while we were gone and, despite my concerns about asking too much of her, I agreed. It turned out she was more than happy to help and although we offered to pay her all she wanted in return was a dozen eggs from our chickens every few weeks. Since then we have got to know another neighbour who is happy to throw his chemical-free grass clippings over the fence to mulch our chicken coop in return for eggs. Our chickens have given us some wonderful bartering opportunities, but these would have never happened if we hadn't made an effort to get to know our neighbours. So go and speak to your neighbours, invite them in for coffee and see what wonderful deals and friendships you can strike up!
Helping others in need
This saving may not be for your pocket but is useful and could help out others in need if you dig deep enough at no cost to you.
For anyone who has fruit trees and hates seeing all their leftover fruit go to waste, why not donate any leftovers to your local hostel/nursing home? Many places such as these run as a not for profit organisation who rely on donations from the community. This also saves you from cleaning up the mess from the ground as well as making a contribution to your community.
Some of these homes may also run an opportunity shop if you wish to donate items such as clothes, electrical appliances and so on and will usually pick up items for free if you live locally. So next time you think of throwing something out, ask yourself if it's in good enough condition to donate to an aged care facility.
You could also freeze up the fruit and keep it for later or make some lovely jams and spreads.
Here are a few more ideas for our valued Vault members:
Family lends a hand Contributed by: Netball Nut
Volunteer to walk a dog Contributed by: Mozzie K
Give them your time Contributed by: Lisa D
6. Best of the Forum: A Friend in Need
The Forum is a wonderful place to experience first-hand the joy that lending a hand brings - to both parties. Here are some recent discussions that might give you some ideas about making a difference in someone's life this month.
There are some wonderful ideas in here for helping kids in need.
Join this delightful group of ladies who have reached out and made a difference to each other's lives.
The marvellous Mimi has been at it again with some great ideas and recipes for warm winter meals. Perhaps there is someone in your life who would appreciate a dish made with love!
Here's a wonderful excuse to knock on a new neighbour's door, call an old friend or make a new one.
Winter is the perfect time to knit or crochet something special for someone special. Join this clever group of ladies for lots of ideas and even more inspiration!
7. Best Members' Blog: The Future Looks Brighter Even if my Wallet Feels Lighter
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 Liz for her blog on 'embracing' the $21 Challenge...and the bulk biscuit recipe!
I have always loved a bargain but for the last few years it's been more about needing the bargain. I worked part time after having my first child and after my second, I never quite made it back to work. Now my children are six and four and it's getting trickier and trickier to make ends meet.
My husband is self-employed and at times work can be sporadic. In an effort to make the leaner times more bearable I made all the cuts I could. I ditched the home phone (the only calls I ever received were from telemarketers and call me crazy, but I don't want to pay for that privilege). I shopped around for the best deal on electricity, insurance and mobile phone plans. I quit smoking for the financial benefit as much as the health benefits (sad, I know).
With all my changes, the numbers just weren't adding up. We were redrawing half our last mortgage payment to make the next mortgage payment and that's just crazy. And then, on a day I'll never forget, I stumbled onto the $21 Challenge book in the library and it completely changed my way of thinking and another Simple Saver joined the flock (I think my hubby would call me a Psycho Saver).
My first challenge week went fairly well but I must admit I mainly just ate cookies (the bulk recipe is nothing short of spectacular when you add golden syrup and white choc chips). I think I missed the point and the fact that I didn't end up with scurvy is a miracle. I should add, my family didn't join me on my cookie odyssey. I resolved to make next challenge week a healthier affair.
I decided to do the challenge one week a month in an effort to get things under control. This last challenge week was amazing. We ate delicious, healthy food all week for just $20.44. My freezer was just as delighted as my family. Both my freezer and I could breathe a bit easier. Pancake night was such a success we have made every Tuesday pancake day.
With two weeks to go till my next challenge, I have started checking out recipes and lunchbox ideas. I can't wait!
Well done Liz - keep up the great work! To read any of our members' blogs, click here
8. Hidden Gem: On The House
Our Hidden Gems directory is designed to help members source the best deals in their area. This month's Hidden Gem is On The House as nominated by Kay Tee.
This is an excellent way to get to see shows in Melbourne at an amazingly cheap price.
'On The House' is a company that gets production tickets (these are the promotional tickets or are sold when a show wants to fill a venue or has a preview) for shows mostly in Melbourne but sometimes for other cities in Australia. Most tickets are between $2.50 and $7 each, often a saving of about $15-20 per ticket and the shows tend to be in smaller venues in and around the CBD.
The website is very easy to use and it is just like buying regular tickets online, but instead of getting a physical ticket, you have to go to the box office on the night and tell them that you have tickets 'on the house'. If you can't attend, you just have to let 'On The House' know ahead of time.
We have been to comedy, cabaret, theatre and music events. The best part is that the more people who know about 'On The House', the more publicity they can get and the more tickets that are available.
Tips - Get in early! 'On The House' sends out emails fairly regularly with their new events. It's worth checking back on their website frequently to see what is new. Some of the tickets sell out really quickly, especially if they have a small allocation, but often new dates/times become available. Sometimes you can plan ahead, but often tickets are available for tonight or the next couple of nights, so if you have a night free it is worth checking back to see what is on.
Well done Kay Tee on locating such a fantastic hidden gem and thanks so much for sharing.
9. Cooking with Mimi: Random Acts of Kindness and Volunteering... Comfort Baskets
Winter can be truly miserable when you live alone.
No-one to snuggle to at night. No-one to make warming drinks for you when the ills and chills hit.
I have three friends who are single parents, and I'm making up these Comfort Baskets to deliver to them this weekend.
As a mum and wife with my own family, I can't be there to make them warming drinks when they're not well, nor would they want to snuggle up to me at night. But I can give them the gift of not having to dash out to the expensive late night pharmacy when they're not feeling the best.
If you make your own versions of each of the items, this can be a really inexpensive gift. Just about everything can be made at home or sourced frugally from the supermarket or discount stores.
This basket is for my own living room, where I keep one next to each chair. It contains the following items:
- Polar fleece throw rug for snuggling under
- Woolly bed socks for chilly feet
- Massage oil for aches and pains
- Chest rub
- Lip balm
- Throat lozenges
- Cold sore cream
- Hand cream
- A favourite book
- Heat wheat
It's a small compact basket and takes up very little room and is such a luxurious thing to have sitting nearby on a chilly evening.
For my friends I'll add a jar of my Lemon Ginger Honey to add to tea or hot lemon drinks, and some home-made Lemon Ginger and Chilli Barley Water.
I can't volunteer to rub Euccy Rub on their chests, but I can give them some mummy love with my Comfort Baskets!
Lemon Ginger Honey
Makes one large jar
- 2 lemons, scrubbed well and cut into thin wedges
- 4 tsp grated ginger or minced ginger or a thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1-1 1/2 cups honey
- Recycled or new jar, about 500ml capacity
Put the lemon wedges and ginger into the jar. Heat the honey for about 20 seconds in the microwave to warm it and make it runny, and pour over the lemon and ginger. Cover the lemons entirely. Refrigerate immediately and use as required. This can be added to tea or hot water or juiced lemons and boiling water to make a soothing drink any time. It will store well for several months.
Lemon Ginger and Chilli Barley Water
- 3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed in a sieve until the water runs clear
- 6 cups water
- 1 small red chilli, deseeded and sliced
- Juice and zest of 3 lemons
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 tsp minced ginger
Bring the barley, chilli and water to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes. Strain and pour into a bowl.
Add the other ingredients and stir well.
Pour into recycled and sterilised bottles or jars, and use as a cordial.
This potion is purported to be a great way to boost your immunity. On that I remain uncertain, but it sure does taste good!
You can discover more of Mimi's creations in our Members' Blog section at www.simplesavings.com.au/blog.
10. Claire's Corner: Senior Moments
About three months ago, my 62-year-old mum made the very difficult decision to move to Wanganui (about six hours drive from us in Auckland). It was purely a financial decision, she was made redundant a year earlier. After selling her house she sunk a lot of the money into a health shop. Unfortunately it never really took off and she had to close down within a year. But with house prices (and rent) in Auckland being ridiculously high, she didn't have enough money to buy again in Auckland. So, she bought a house that she could afford in Wanganui (where houses are very affordable), and very bravely moved herself there (and, I'm pleased to say, she now loves it).
Over the year that she was running her health shop she made a lot of friends in the community, many of them folk that needed help with their health or well-being. One of them in particular, Mary, is an elderly lady who lives alone in a retirement unit not far from me. Mum would often take Mary shopping and to doctors' appointments and keep her company. Mary is also legally blind so having Mum around to help her out was great for her. But of course, when Mum moved away Mary felt quite bereft at not having her company.
Mum had made a few subtle suggestions to me that perhaps I could help Mary out and 'keep an eye on her'. But, knowing how much time Mum spent with her (a lot!) I was a bit worried that I just wouldn't have the time - I never seem to have enough hours in the day as it is! But a few weeks ago Mum rang me and asked me to pop in and see Mary as she had some old glassware that needed to go to the charity shop. So Emily and I called in on her later that day. We stayed for a cuppa and a chat - Mary was delighted to be able to show us her garden, her cat and her recent bargains from the hospice shop!
I realised that it wasn't a big ask at all to spend a little time with someone who just needed company, and that in fact, I quite enjoyed it. I also learnt that poor old Mary had been having a rough time in the retirement village. Apparently some of the other residents have been bullying her - turning off her washing machine (which is in a communal laundry), tipping out her rubbish and making silly phone calls. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! It sounded more like a primary school than a retirement village! How utterly awful for someone who is in her 80's and can barely see. I dare say that this sort of thing happens in many retirement homes, and probably often gets dismissed by staff and carers.
Emily and I have made the decision to pop in and see Mary more regularly. She loves our company, even if it's only for an hour or so. I don't have any grandparents still alive, so it's quite nice for us to have her company too. And of course, she has some amazing stories about her childhood and about the war - it's wonderful for Emily to hear them, she is fascinated by how people lived a few generations ago. So I guess it's a win-win - we get just as much from her as she gets from us!
You can read more of Claire's warm and wonderful words in our Members' Blog section at www.simplesavings.com.au/blog
11. 50c Indulgences: Winter Time Delights
Our Indulgences under 50c thread theme 'Winter Time Delights' has started off with so much enthusiasm and has really changed my feelings about winter. There are always different ways of looking at things...instead of cold, dark and gloomy, we have chosen to see winter as snuggly and cozy and warmed by candle, fire or fairy lights! A simple shift in habits makes winter so much nicer. Think of snuggly rugs on the lounge, hot chocolate with marshmallows, a heat pack in bed, the crock pot bubbling away with soup or a stew when you come in the door in the evening.
During winter I can leave the garden watering to nature so I've had a chance to jump into so many indoor projects and am just loving it! In summer we tend to be out swimming or gardening in the evenings but winter is the time to work on hand-made gifts and crafts and get lots done inside the house. Dark evenings become lovely with clusters of candles but a wood fire is even nicer. The soft glow of fairy lights in the house is an alternative. We use solar ones and the solar panel sits in the windowsill and collects the sunlight and we enjoy a free glow of pretty lights in the evenings. They are beautiful and with a few candles provide all the light we need in the evenings. It creates a lovely atmosphere - instead of gloomy, it's soft and romantic! Make winter extra cozy and comfortable in the bedroom by making your beds up with additional warmth, especially an under blanket under the bottom sheet.
Winter is also a beautiful time to teach children to knit. I learned so much knitting with my mum and nan from a young age and so many years later, still remember it all. Working on a rug over winter keeps your knees warm as it grows and makes a lovely heirloom or gift. Knitting a hot water bottle cover is a wonderful smaller project, or even easier, sew one from some woollen fabric. I add a little embroidery to mine and give them as winter gifts.
Come and join us as we continue on through winter and make it warm and happy for our families and ourselves. There is nothing like a cup of tea and friendship to warm our hearts in winter. My day wouldn't be the same without some time on the Forum for some friendship, help and support!
You can drop in and join Annabel, Helen and the Under 50c Army here:
Winter time delights. Under 50 cent indulgences June 2013
12. Rob Bob's Gardening Blog: A Trip Away and Some Very Welcome Pickings From the Patch
A trip away
A bit late with the blog this week as we spent last week away visiting the Port Macquarie region, catching up with family and visiting the old family farms. It was great to take Bianca and the girls to see the two farms they had heard so much about and see the new residents.
We also got to meet up with an online friend, Dave, and have a bit of a swap meet. We dropped off some dragon fruit seedlings and some seeds that we had saved from the patch and in return we got some green mango chutney and some of his home-grown/processed bamboo shoots. These will go great in either a stir-fry or curry methinks. Dave was also kind enough to give us a selection of seeds. We got some root stock citrus seeds, rocket seeds, yellow and red Trinidad Scorpion chilli seeds (some of the hottest chillies in the world :/») as well as a selection of fresh chillies to save seeds from. He also roasts his own coffee and made us up a great cuppa while we were there. It was great to catch up with another keen gardener and hope to make a trip there just to check out his small permaculture farm in greater detail at a later date. It was pouring rain when we were there.
We decided that while we were away we would try and make the trip as 'SS' as possible by taking as much food as we could for our main meals. We took 1½ dozen eggs from the girls, home-made curry paste, some home-grown vegies as well as a few tins of beans and the like. As much as I like going out and having other people cook for me I think the best two meals we had were made in the unit from a cauliflower we had grown :)» The first meal we made was a basic cauliflower and bacon soup but the second was my favourite.
Bianca made up a prawn and cauliflower Thai curry using all our own ingredients except for some locally caught prawns and a small tin of coconut cream. Would have to be the best meal we ate while we were away I think **nods**.
The fish that I mentioned harvesting in the last blog, was cooked up for my parents and some of my uncles and aunts while we were down there. Don, an ace on the BBQ, fried up the fish and they were shared around the family. Everyone said that they were most impressed and thought it was some of the best tasting fresh water fish they had eaten, so I was most chuffed about that. Think we might harvest a few more in a couple of weeks so we can cook them up fresh on the BBQ here with some friends. Makes it all worth the effort when we can share them around with friends & family.
I have a load of jobbies on the list to do this week but I think the first one I should get to is giving the beds a good liquid feed. I have been making up comfrey green manure tea over the past month or so using the waste water from the aquaponics solids filter that is full of extra fishy nutrients. Green manure teas can be made up with almost any green leafy materials from the patch. It makes for a very cheap and 'SS' nutrient rich fertiliser. It is probably best not to use leaves from trees like gums due to their volatile oils or others like oleanders that are poisonous. I like to stick to common garden weeds, leaves from plants that have been pruned and comfrey. I have a preference for comfrey and dandelion plants as they are both 'dynamic/bio accumulators'. This means that their long roots bring up extra nutrients from deep in the soil.
To go about making your own all you need to do is shred up some leaves and let them steep in some water for a few weeks. It helps to give the brew a mix every day with a stick just to get some oxygen in there to help feed the aerobic bacteria. I like to stir ours every time I walk by it but once or twice a day is fine I think. After two or so weeks it is ready to use. I like to strain out the organic matter then add one litre of the brew to a 9-10L litre watering can then give the patch a good feed with that.
WARNING: While brewing, keep away from your own house and neighbours' dwellings as the odour can become rather offensive depending on what you add ;)»
Below is a quick look at how I make ours up and then mix it up for application to the garden.
Some I have spoken to also like to add molasses as well as an aquarium air pump with air stones to theirs. This is to add some extra oxygen/sugars that help feed the bacteria that work in the brew. I can really see the change it has made in a few of the plants like the chillies, garlic and brassicas as they all look healthier and put on a bit of a growth spurt a few days after adding this stinky home-made fertiliser..
Well that's it for now; hope you all have a great week.
Rob : )»
You can read more of Rob Bob's gardening adventures in our Members' Blog section at /blog/
13. From Last Month: Funeral Plans
Last month Helene Griffiths emailed us about ideas to help her with funeral plans:
"I am currently researching funeral plans and I am confused by the price differences and what I should do."
We got some fantastic ideas - thank you for sharing your wisdom! Here are some of our favourite replies:
Plan funeral arrangements ahead
You can help make your funeral arrangements easier on your family by researching and working out what you want, then writing it down and keeping it safe with your will and personal papers. You can then open a bank account and put money into it. This way your money earns interest and your family won't have the problem of the funeral home you chose not accepting the funeral plan that you've paid for.
Pre-paid funeral better option than insurance
Rather than paying for funeral insurance for the rest of her life, my mother has prepaid and arranged her funeral directly through a funeral company. She was able to choose her casket, whether to have a wreath and which charity she wants donations made to in lieu of flowers. She knew up front the total amount and the company accepted a payment plan over 18 months (she paid it off in five months for peace of mind). They will invest the money to cover rising costs.
Shop around for cremation costs
We recently organised a direct cremation for my mother-in-law and saved $3000 by shopping around. My mother-in-law was 91 when she passed away and had told us she didn't want a funeral service. We rang around and found an enormous difference in price for the same thing. One company quoted us $4600 and another - who we went with - charged $1600 for EXACTLY the same thing!
When I questioned the first company about the difference, they couldn't really explain it, they just said 'that is how it is'! It really does pay to shop around as we saved thousands without compromising on the service we received.
Term deposit better than funeral insurance
Here's a tip to help ensure you have money put aside for funeral costs while also giving you extra cash.
While I was working I opened a separate interest-bearing bank account and had automatic payments made each month from my wages. Once I had saved $10,000, I put the money into a term deposit for six months at a time, with the interest going into my ordinary savings account.
Doing this means you keep $10,000 in your term deposit, but the interest is your 'bonus'. Just before the six months are up, check around in case there is a better deal from your bank (or other banks). Sometimes they have 180 day or perhaps 160 day terms. If another bank has a better deal all you have to do is contact your own bank and let them know you can get a better deal - and they will match it!
I am 70 years old now and being on the pension I look forward to my little 'bonus' each six months. For instance, a few months ago I got $174. Why let the insurance company or funeral plan provider get the interest on your money when you can have it for yourself?
Get comprehensive quotes when funeral planning
When the difficult time comes to plan for a funeral, it's a good idea to ring around as many providers and get as many quotes as you can. Be sure to ask what the prices include (such as handles, coffin lining and so on). This way you won't have a nasty shock at the end of it all.
Ask about basic service options
When we recently had a death in the family, we were able to keep costs down and still have the farewell we wanted. Because of an illness, we knew that our loved one's death was imminent which meant family and friends were able to say goodbye.
We found that many funeral directors provide a basic service in which they pick up the deceased and use a chipboard or cardboard coffin and cremate without embalming.
Let estate pay for funeral bill
I believe that funeral insurance/plans are just a gimmick. Why let someone else have the interest from your money when you can keep it earning more interest until necessary?
Both sets of our parents have recently died and both of them had beautiful funerals. Neither sets had funeral plans - the money was available through their estate. For most families, money for funerals will be available to pay the funeral bill through the deceased's estate. In fact, I was growled at by our lawyer because I paid for Mum's funeral up-front at the first meeting after her death (God rest her darling soul). He said, 'Never pay for the funeral until the estate is cleared!'
Donating to medical research an option for some
My uncle, who was very careful with his money, recently passed away. He donated his body to a university for medical research. As I understand it, when the university is finished with his remains they are cremated, so there are no funeral costs. He had a private memorial.
Plan ahead with Funeral Bonds
Instead of a funeral plan, we invested the amount we would need in a funeral account at the bank. They're known as Funeral Bonds and are Centrelink friendly. The bonds are not an asset for us and there are no charges. We get the interest and after use the balance goes into our estate.
Understanding funeral payment options
As someone who works in the funeral industry, I feel it is very important for people looking to have their funeral costs covered understand the differences between products.
Pros and cons of insurance
The funeral insurances you see advertised on TV are just that - insurance. Just as you would insure your car by paying a monthly premium, you can cover funeral costs in this way too. However, be mindful that while the monthly cost may be minimal, you may live for another 20 years and will need to pay this for 20 years to make sure you have your expenses covered. So work out whether or not you can keep paying insurance for an extended period.
While small, weekly amounts may suit some people and the products can be worthwhile, just be mindful of the fact that it is insurance and some circumstances may exclude you from receiving funds. For example, if you miss a month's payment and you pass away in that same month, chances are your family may not get the funds (much the same if you were to have an accident in your car and your premium hadn't been paid). Also, as you get older the premiums will increase. Some companies also have a 'cut off age' which means if you live beyond this age, you are no longer eligible for funds when you pass away.
Pre-paying your funeral means you can choose what you would like to have covered in your funeral and these are charged at today's costs. You can choose to pay it off over a certain time or pay it in a lump sum. If you live for another 20 years, the things paid for in your contract are covered. No further payments will be sought (the disclaimer to this however, is if the family choose to do something outside of the contract, such as ordering more flowers, having some refreshments after the service and so on, then they will be invoiced for these items). The payments, should you pay monthly, will be greater than insurance, but after the contract is paid there are no more debits from your account. You can rest easy knowing your funeral is covered.
A Funeral Bond is a payment of funds towards your funeral. A bit like a savings account. The beauty in a bond is that you can pay a monthly amount of your choosing - from about $25. When it comes time to access the funds they will go towards the funeral costs. If you have more than enough to cover the expenses then the remaining amount goes to the estate. If you don't have quite enough, the family is invoiced for the remaining amount.
The beauty of a pre-paid funeral or bond, is that they are not asset-tested so if you have Centrelink issues, or need to put money away to obtain more pension, one of these options may suit. You can be comfortable in the knowledge that with either option, the money will go towards your expenses.
It is a good idea to sit down with a funeral director and chat to them about your options. You will need to decide if you want a cremation or burial, a church or funeral parlour service as these can change the costs. For a burial, remember to add into your costs the purchase of a plot in a local cemetery. Your director can advise you of possible costs, or guide you on who to contact in your local area in regards to the cemeteries. It will be obligation-free, and will help you know where you stand and which option will suit your budget. You can also contact an insurance company and look at their product.
14. This Month's Help Request: Natural Shampoo
Victoria has emailed asking for some help! She writes:
"Hoping someone can help me! I am looking for a recipe for shampoo from ordinary cupboard ingredients. I have tried baking soda and water but got a terribly itchy scalp. I also tried a recipe with a small amount of coconut oil in it and my hair was soft but really greasy.
I have a very sensitive scalp and am at a loss as to what I can use and I'm sick of paying supermarket prices!"
If you have any pearls of wisdom you'd like to share with Victoria, please send them in to us here.
15. Goodbye For Now!
Well, that's your Simple Savings Newsletter for June 2013 and we hope you have enjoyed it. Don't forget to think about how you can lend a hand this month and make a difference to someone. Enter the competition and tell us what you did!
Our members are hugely important to us and we love hearing from you all! So next time you're on the website, why don't you get in touch and say 'G'day'! Let us know what you would like to see more of in our newsletter or any suggestions you have for something new to try. We love receiving your clever ideas!
Don't forget to spread the love around to your family and friends too by forwarding them our newsletter or letting them know about our website. Help make their lives easier and save them money too! Or tell them about us on Facebook by clicking the 'like' button on our Simple Savings Facebook page.
Till next time...
All the best,