This issue includes:-
It's our birthday this month. The Savings Vault is one year old and has reached 2000 hints!
It has been a great and busy month. Helping people is so much fun. My favourite part is reading your feedback. It is nice to hear we make a difference to people's lives.
"As a single mum and student I am always searching for ways to make my (little) money work harder (as big money!), and your site is a godsend in many ways. Keep up the good work!" Karen, WA
"You have a great web site and the membership access to the Vault is wonderful. Keep up the great work!" Kerie Howett, Baffle Creek, Qld
"Many thanks for another great newsletter." Esther Brooke
"Keep up the good work. You are providing a marvellous service." Barbara Eilert
"After working out our budget I knew we had to reduce our grocery expenditure but had no idea how. Simple Savings has helped me to save over $30 most weeks - and often more." Debbie Eustace
We will be appearing on Today Tonight, on channel 7, this evening (Tuesday)!
Please forward this newsletter on to your friends. The more the merrier.
PS. A membership to the Savings Vault really is one of the best investments you will ever make. Debbie Eustace saved over $1500 a year. You will recover your money in one week - it is that simple.
To order a membership, go to:
Here are a couple of hints from the Groceries section of the Savings Vault. This is just a small sample. There are 66 printed pages of tips in the Grocery section alone (386 hints).
Click here to buy a 12-month membership to the vault and read the rest of the hints.
I keep a grocery folder for shopping. Inside I have a list of all the things I usually buy, the retail price and also the best special price I have seen. When I browse the junk mail and see a "special", I check my folder to see if it is the best price I have found. This saves me about $20 a fortnight; this certainly adds up over the year.
I save money each week by putting together a weekly menu plan. Instead of going shopping and buying whatever I see on the shelf and stashing it in the cupboard in case I might need it, I now write the week's evening meals in a book. Once a week I go through my recipe book and decide what the meals will be for each night.
I can plan ahead for when my husband is working at night so that I can have something ready for him to take to work. When I am working and have to be out in the afternoons with sport, I can plan to have a slow-cooker meal ready for our return home.
This also saves having a cupboard full of things that might reach their expiry date before I get to use them. By doing this, I have saved around $20 each week, which I can then put towards a night out once a month or perhaps towards an extra-special meal that we would not normally eat.
Time and money are in short supply for my family of four. To make it easier and cheaper to prepare meals, we devised the following system. We wrote down all the meals we liked and incorporated them into a two-week menu plan called plan A. We then made up another two-week menu plan and named it plan B. We listed all the ingredients we'd need to make each meal. When we shop for groceries now, we take a list of the ingredients for the main meals listed in that plan and we buy only what we need for the two weeks. The next time we shop for groceries, we use plan B.
We now have many hassle-free nights as we don't have to decide what to make for dinner, and we know that the food is going to be in the kitchen. We save a considerable amount of money on groceries as we are not buying impulsively or buying things we don't need. Less food perishes as it doesn't get pushed to the back of the cupboard.
When you enter the local supermarket, remember that you're on a bargain mission. Scan the aisles for any bargain indicators marked by a 'special' or 'reduced to clear' label. When you find a potential bargain, compare the price to other brands and make sure that it is a genuine saving. If it passes the test, and it's on your shopping list, snaffle it.
If you live in Adelaide, you can reduce your grocery bill by shopping for your bread, meat and vegetables on Saturday afternoons. Supermarkets sell bakery items marked down by half to two-thirds from 3 pm on Saturdays; the meat prices are reduced as well. Bread has a shelf-life of less than four to five days. If it is left on the shelf for this period, it has to be marked down. You can easily freeze the bread and other items. Most of the fruit and vegetable shops also slash their prices on Saturdays to get rid of their stock because Sunday is a no-shopping day here.
My two friends and I have learned the power of buying in bulk. For example, we buy bulk amounts of washing powder together. Big W sells washing powder in 15 kilogram boxes and, if you also wait for that store's sales, you can save quite a lot of money! The last time we bought washing powder together, it cost us $15 for 15 kilograms as we got a damaged box for a reduced price. Even without that extra bargain, by waiting for a sale, we can buy two boxes of decent-quality laundry powder for $2.50 a kilogram. This amount between the three of us will last six months.
My friends and I combine shopping when we visit Bunnings Warehouse (the really big Bunnings stores). It has a great range of bulk pump soap, detergent, spray cleaner - you name it. By combining our purchases, we buy enough to last a year for each household for the price of a month's supply!
We also save money on purchasing items from other continents that are far cheaper if you can share the postage. The Internet is a great way to share these savings.
I try to memorise (or note down) prices, particularly specials, as I shop then check each receipt as I walk away from the register after paying. At least one in every three shopping trips I return to the service counter and get the cost of an item refunded due to being overcharged. Recently I was charged $4.05 for a one kilogram box of Weet-Bix that had a display sticker marked $4.02. At the same time, some rice crackers were meant to be on special for $1.48 but I was charged $1.67. I was refunded the cost for both these items.
We live in a two-bedroom town house and do several things to cut costs. One of the first things we bought was a second-hand upright deep freezer for $60 out of the 'Trading Post'. Now we only buy meat when it is either an amazing special or when it has been heavily reduced to clear. Always buy bulk amounts if possible. Use freezer bags and repackage your meat in meal-sized quantities. We usually save around 30 per cent on our meat and poultry. Products such as unprocessed cheese, margarine and processed meats will not lose quality in the freezing process; buy them when heavily discounted (at least once a month we can save around 40 per cent on the purchase price for cheese and margarine) and store them in the freezer so as not to clutter up the fridge. Fresh vegetables do not freeze well at all, but cooked vegetables will often freeze very well. Casseroles, stocks, soups and sauces all keep very well in the freezer.
The best way to save money on alcohol is to go without. If you are not ready to make that step, here are some ways you can reduce the damage alcohol is doing to your budget.
The web site Cleanskins.com is brilliant because it sells only the best cleanskins of each category available and the price is always a very low $109 per dozen. There is no risk. Large wine web sites and wine shops scare me; there are too many choices. I never know what to buy and am afraid I'll turn up to a friend's home with a dud. That is why I really like cleanskins.com. They keep it simple and offer four top-quality wines - one shiraz, one cabernet merlot, one bubbly and one chardonnay. Cleanskins.com delivers all over Australia.
I've been buying wine for the last year or so from Prospect Wines in Melbourne. They have a retail outlet in Nunawading that stocks an amazing range of cleanskin wines. I've never been disappointed with any of the wines I have purchased, and I think that I have saved a fortune.
The company's winery clearance centre is in the Brand Smart Shopping Centre at 286 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading. You can buy reds, whites, sparkling wines and fortified wines. The wines are from various wineries and different regions and States in Australia. Other Prospect Wines retail outlets in Melbourne are in Beaumaris, Carlton (at Harvest Liquor Carlton), Hampton and Richmond. There aren't any interstate shops yet.
You can order wine online from Prospect Wines by visiting www.prospectwines.com.au
Contributed by: Libby Weir
In the liqueurs and spirits, there is always another alcoholic beverage that is the same or almost the same as the top name-brand stuff. Always ask the shop attendant to recommend a cheaper alternative. For example, there are several other drinks that are exactly the same as 'Malibu' but are half the price ('Rhumba' and 'Wipe Out').
1 cup Scotch whisky (cheap is fine)
1 tin evaporated milk
1 tin condensed milk
1 cup hot water with 1-2 tablespoons of coffee (add to taste)
Add all the ingredients to a well-sealed container and store in the fridge. Shake the container daily. Try to not devour the drink before it is seven days old! Yes, it can be drunk earlier, but tastes much better after a week. The weight conscious can use low-fat milk.
A few weeks before a party or barbecue, I make a batch of ginger beer. It costs about 20 cents a litre to make and is quite fun to do. You can easily find free recipes for ginger beer on the Net (type in 'ginger beer' in a search engine to find a recipe). I have found that recipes that require a 'plant' give a better result, but give the others a try anyway. Ginger beer is also a good alternative for those driving home. I have found that a lot of people who are generally beer drinkers prefer ginger beer to cola drinks and lemonade.
Here is Catherine's recipe for ginger beer:
Place in a large jar:
1 teaspoon brewers yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
500 ml warm water
Stir these together and place in a warm place (window sill). 'Feed' the plant with one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of ginger every day for one week. Then the plant is ready. Sediment from the plant can be reused to start a new plant without the addition of more yeast. Excess fluid can be returned to the plant.
1 kilogram sugar
1.5 litres hot/boiling water
4.5 litres cool water
Juice of two lemons
250 ml liquid from plant
Place the sugar in a bucket and pour boiling water over it. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add cool water and lemon juice. Stir in the liquid from the plant. Bottle the ginger beer. It will be ready for use after one week, and will be better after more than two weeks.
To sterilise bottles I just clean them thoroughly first with detergent (pay special attention to the bottle top and use a bottle brush), then I rinse the bottle to remove all suds. I soak the bottle in very hot water just before use. This seems to work well.
My wife is Japanese and as such likes to make Japanese food (which is fine by me). One snack that we make to save money (and be healthy) is 'onigiri' or Japanese rice balls. Once made we simply freeze them and use as required. They are a great replacement for takeaway food and can be sweet or savoury.
The basic way of making them is:
- make 4-5 cups of sticky rice
- allow to cool enough to handle
- wet your hands and rub in a little salt
- form a triangle shape of rice in your hands and press a small indent into the middle of it
- fill the indent with a filling of your choice (we use all sorts of things - eg tuna mayonnaise, braised beef mince, shredded salmon - your imagination is the only limitation.)
- wrap up into a closed package
Onigiri can be eaten hot or cold - so you can give them to the kids for a mid-morning snack, or use them whilst you're out shopping and you get hungry. To make 20 or so of these onigiri typically costs about $4-$5 - not bad when you consider that you can spend that on a single snack alone when you're out and about.
There are 33 more inspirational saving stories in the vault. It is amazing how much money some people save once they apply a few simple tricks.
Shop for your groceries each calendar month (never weekly), and never go shopping until the exact day arrives (for example, shop on the 30th day of each month). You'd be surprised at how creative and resourceful you can become. My family says that the best meals I make are when we had 'nothing in the house' - meaning that I hadn't been shopping!
Tell yourself that you can't go shopping, say, for transport or financial reasons. Instead of going shopping to buy individual items, make a packet cake or biscuits - or substitute that which you don't have with something that you do. For example, if I make choc-chip biscuits and don't have any choc chips, I use sultanas instead. Improvisation! You'd be surprised at what is lurking in the back of your pantry just waiting to be used creatively!
We are a family of seven and have a food budget of only $600 a month ($300 on groceries, $100 on meat, $100 on milk and $100 on vegetables/fruit).
We also have takeaway once a month - usually on shopping day; after shopping I'm sick of looking at food and don't want to cook!
The top-quality BubsDuds.com.au web site was added to our 'Simple Savings Recommends' programme this month.
This site is great for mums who love buying designer things for their baby. They sell second-hand baby clothes, high chairs, toys, prams, and so on for half of the new retail price. It is good value.
If you would like more information about the "Simple Savings Recommends" programme, go to:
A lot of people think that they have to put up a standard 1.8 metre fence, that is, a fence where you can't see your neighbour at all. If you and your neighbour agree to have a lower fence, this will reduce the cost of the materials. In addition, you will benefit from passive surveillance - it's the latest trend in suburb design. Basically, it's back to the post-war years: the idea is to have lower fences so that neighbours can see each other again. Communities become better connected and safer: suddenly thieves cannot break in as easily as they are potentially being watched in the back yard.
Look into building it yourself! You can buy the pieces from a fencing supplier and they screw together really easily. You can make the panels up a couple at a time and store them until construction day. On the day you want to put it up, hire a post hole digger (worth the $50 hire fee) and some quick set cement and get cracking! It is easier than you might think.
Here are some of my favourite lunch solutions.
My son works in the city where it is expensive to buy lunch. He keeps tins of tuna and instant soups at his desk and takes a couple of slices of bread from home each day. I make and freeze portions of pasta dishes (spaghetti bolognaise, ravioli and tomato garlic sauce); he takes these and reheats them in the microwave. We also buy bulk soft drink; he takes a can each day. My son saves $2.00 a day on drinks and $5.00 to $15 a day on his lunches.
When making home-made pizza (the kids love to help), make an extra one and cut it up. Individually wrap the pieces and freeze them. They will defrost by lunchtime and are never left uneaten in the lunch box.
I often like a hot lunch to get me through the day. I make a week's worth of lunches with 500 grams of chicken or beef strips and a jar of Kan Tong for stir-fries. Even though there are some vegetables in the sauce mix, I usually throw in a few extra vegetables such as celery, carrot, capsicum or whatever I have. You can always buy a tin of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots or baby corn if you want more of an authentic Chinese flavour. Steam some jasmine rice, then fill several Chinese takeaway containers and keep in the freezer. The meal can be reheated in a microwave at work.
Children love to have chips for their lunch boxes, but the single-serving sizes work out to be quite expensive. I buy reusable snaplock bags and fill them with whatever chips or savoury biscuits were on special in bulk. My son then has a choice of what treat he wants to take to school. These bags can also be taken to picnics and sporting events.
We were asked; "Does anyone know how to make 'tears natural'? I have dry eyes and a tiny bottle costs around $11 at the chemist. I have been told that it can be made up at home, but I do not know the recipe."
Click here if you can help.
Tanya Gavin asks, "Can anyone help with some low-cost budget accommodation on the Gold Coast for the first week of October? It will be the first week of the New South Wales school holidays. We are a family of four and would welcome any feedback in relation to stays that other 'Simple Savers' have had on the Gold Coast. I am also interested in cheap places to eat, and so on, especially those that only the locals know about. I know that it would be a lot cheaper to travel when it is not school-holiday time but we have a family wedding in Toowoomba on the 27th, so we are killing two birds with one stone."
Click here if you can help Tanya
The Vault contains informal product reviews, general savings hints, bargain-hunting tips, online discounts, saving stories and a discussion forum. There are over 2000 snippets of handy information. You can learn:
Membership to the Savings Vault costs $47 for the first year and $21 to renew. It comes with a 365-day no-questions-asked guarantee.
To order a membership, go to:
To unsubscribe or alter your subscription, send a blank email to this address
If you have encountered a problem with our newsletter, please email me. I will give your comments immediate attention.
© 2003 AL Consulting Pty Ltd. This publication may be freely redistributed if copied in its entirety. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted with written permission.