This issue includes:-
It has been a busy month. Baby Jacqui is well. She looks beautiful, like a little fat Buddha. This month Sam was teething, caught an ear infection, fell over, snapped his collarbone, caught the flu, then the chickenpox - and burst his ear drum.
It is months like this that I am really glad we are careful with our money. It was a great relief to not have money worries on top of all that! Sam is almost better now. I have my happy child back and his smile makes me feel so glad that we had been saving for a rainy day.
It is fantastic to be able to help people. Your letters of thanks make me grin:
"Just a note to say thanks for your money saving ideas. Browsing through the baby section of the vault, I found that there is a Mother's Choice factory outlet called IGC. We went there and WOW! We saved $240 on a brand new pram. The pram on the floor had dirty wheels, which is why it was reduced to $60. The lovely sales assistant then told us that she had found a brand new one still in the box, which she would sell to us for $60. She then gave us her card and told us if we saw anything in one of the retail shops that we liked, just to ring her and she would see what deal she could do for us. Well worth the drive if you are looking for a pram. Thank you again." (Rebecca McCarthy)
"I just wanted to say that I was really amazed that the Simple Savings team takes the time to write personal thank you notes - it really blew me away! It was most appreciated and really made my day. Thank you!" (Rosemary Finn)
"You are providing a great service to the Australian community. Well done and keep it up! We print your newsletter out each month and make a few copies available through various points at our community centre (emergency relief distribution, waiting/lounge room, reception, etc.) and there are rarely any left at the end of the month." (Neil Williamson)
Have a wonderful month!
The easiest way to have spare money (unless you are Donald Trump) is to spend less than you earn. Spending less is easy - all you have to do is change a few habits. Earning extra money is much harder - it takes time and effort. So let's look at how you can save $10,000!
By spending less than you earn you will always have cash reserves. You don't have to be embarrassed. No matter what happens you can hold your head high. If you have to pay $30 per tablet *eyebrow raise* and there's no government subsidy you can say, "I can afford that. Lucky I've been putting money aside." It's a nice feeling.
Australia is a lucky country. We have a fantastic medical system, but the best health care still costs money. So how do you do it? How do you build up and keep a stash of spare cash?
Here is a short list of things you can do to save $10,000 this year:
Wow! It adds up so quickly. We have just saved $10,000 and we haven't even looked at pets, weddings, school books, office expenses, electricity, water, holidays, car repairs, kids clothes, craft supplies - the list is huge. Check out the Savings Vault preview page.
There are so many ways you can save money. There are now 5001 tips in the Vault. My favourite part is that every dollar I save is a dollar I don't have to earn, which means I can spend more time playing with my children (or, lately, ferrying them to doctors' appointments!)
You shouldn't have to spend money to show someone how much you love them. It is the things you do for a person that show them how much you care. So we have made up some great free gifts for you and your children to give to your Dad. The only thing you have to pay for is the cost of the printing. And that is the way it should be.
Here are 10 coupons you can print and give to your Dad. They say, "I promise to ... weed the garden, give you a back rub, wash the cow, wash the dishes, arrange a movie night, give you the remote, give you a day off, be quiet till we get home, rake the lawn, make your breakfast". To view/download these vouchers go to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/freestuff/
If the first 10 coupons aren't enough and you think your Dad deserves extra, there are another 10 coupons you can print. They say: "I promise to ... walk the dog, be your slave for an hour, be quiet, let you sleep in, mow the lawn, feed the dog, wash the car, run you a nice hot bath, give you a hug, put out the garbage." To view/download these vouchers go to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/freestuff/
Laughter is a wonderful present you can give your Dad. Silly games create lots of laughs and beautiful memories. Here are a few you can do this Father's Day.
You can play inside or outside! You can make the 'holes' by collecting cans or pails and setting them on their side. You can add a little ziplock bag of sand or dirt to make them stay put. Make obstacles using furniture, toys or cardboard boxes with holes cut in them.
No golf equipment? Use baseball bats, broomsticks or cardboard tubes for clubs and ping-pong balls or anything small and round in lieu of golf balls!
Hide your Dad's presents throughout the house. It's a bit like an Easter egg hunt but the kids are in control. Get the kids to help their Dad by calling 'colder' and 'warmer' as he gets near a present.
Give Dad a necktie that he'll really enjoy this Father's Day - one he can sink his teeth into! Make up a cake mix following the package directions. Pour some of the mixture into a cupcake holder and the remainder into a rectangular pan. Bake according to directions and allow to cool. Remove the cake from the pan, and cut in half lengthwise. Lay the pieces end to end on cardboard or a cookie sheet. Place the cupcake at one end of the cake. Cut the other end of the cake into a V-shape. Then ice the cake and decorate with lollies to look like a tie!
It is important to eat fresh fruit and vegetables but the prices keep going up. The way to guard your budget against the price rises is to find a friend with a vegetable garden or plant your own. Spring is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time. Here are some tips for experienced gardeners, apartment block dwellers and brown thumbs alike.
Create a win/win situation. If you don't have the space or skills to create a garden, share with one of your friends or relatives. Suggest to them that you will pay for the seeds and compost and do four hours work in their garden every week if they will share the crop. Or if you have a friend who is a savvy gardener but they live in an apartment, offer your yard for the vegie garden in exchange for them teaching you how to garden - and then share the spoils. The options are endless.
If you would like a vegie garden but don't know how to prepare it, buy the ABC video 'Patch from Scratch'. It costs $25.95 from the ABC and goes through everything you need to do to grow vegetables in your garden. It is great!
I grow most of our vegetables so that we can eat healthily and save money. I save all the kitchen scraps to compost, so I wanted to buy a tumble composter, which turns lawn clippings and scraps into compost in 14 to 21 days. The composter was priced at $410! So I bought a 240 litre plastic drum (cherry bin) from the local trash and treasure market for $5, and my husband drilled holes in the lid. It doesn't have a frame but I roll it onto the lawn for five rotations once a day and I make compost in 21 days! It isn't hard to roll, but I can't empty it into a wheelbarrow (I'm only 5 feet tall!), so I spread a sheet of plastic on the lawn and tip it out onto that. The compost is fantastic.
You can usually pick up manure for your garden free from local stables or even from cattle/lamb sale yards. Remember to let it age and/or water it down before use.
For those of you who don't have the space to create a vegetable garden or are renting, here is an ultra cheap way to get you started:
Looking after your garden is much easier this way. There is no digging and you can put the garden where you want, and if you move you can take it with you!
I like to grow my own vegetables to save money, so I try and grow a lot of vegetables that can be frozen, such as pumpkin (cut into chunks and place in plastic bags ready to use), beans, leeks, shallots, peas, corn, swede, parsnips, and so on. Every winter I have enough vegetables for soups and stews until the next season. I also save by allowing some to go to seed, as they come up the following year. All peelings are placed directly in beds not in use, and my pumpkins all come up this way. I then encourage them to spread around the edges of the beds until finished fruiting. What I can't use, I freeze. I even cut up cucumbers and use for stir-fry - they taste just like zucchinis - or I freeze them and use them in soups. Sometimes I swap them for other things. Even excess fruit, such as mangoes, strawberries and peaches, are either made into jams, crumbles or pies, or frozen for later use.
The Diggers Club has a Special Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Offer. It is a collection of their highest yielding varieties of fruit and vegetables and is available to Health Care Card Holders. The Diggers phone number is 03 5987 1877. Their web address is www.diggers.com.au. I don't have a Health Care Card, so I spent $46 on seed. With 13 packets of seed, you can grow:
I have a vegetable garden only 10 metres long and 4 metres wide. I spend an average of four hours a week on the garden, which includes the time to blanch and freeze surplus produce. We are a family of four on only one wage as I stay home with our three- and five-year-old children. I now spend only about $7 a week on fruit that is in season and on special. I save a minimum of $40 a week which, after our initial outlay, amounts to a saving of $2034 a year on healthy, pesticide-free produce.
When using fresh tomatoes put the seeds into a pot and you can save money by growing your own tomatoes. You will find that they not only look better but they taste better too. The same goes for potatoes. When you have them a little too long they will grow little eyes in them. Just plant them in the ground and you will have your own fresh potatoes. They take around six weeks to grow. When they start to flower put some soil over the base of the plants to cover the growing spuds. When the plant above ground is dead, it is time to harvest and enjoy them.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is great, but what is even better is having neighbours who grow them as well. We had excess tomatoes this year and have been swapping them for figs. I also made tomato chutney, which I swapped for apples. If each neighbour grows different things, there is almost no need to buy anything at all.
Read more great hints in the 'Garden' section of the Savings Vault.
In June, Simple Savings teamed up with cleanskins.com to run a special competition. We asked you to send in your best low-cost recipes using wine, and the team from cleanskins.com judged them. Some excellent recipes were received and they have been placed in our Savings Vault in the 'Cooking -> Cooking with Wine' section.
We are happy to announce that the winner is Erin O'Connor for her wonderful recipe, Gran's Adult Ice Cream. Erin will receive a case of Frontignac 2003 white wine from the Rutherglen region. This wine was the cleanskins.com "Panel's Choice" white for 2004. It was the best wine of over 30 whites tried by the group.
This recipe was my Gran's. It is very simple, but when served in nice bowls looks surprisingly elegant - a very adult way to enjoy ice cream!
Put the plums and their syrup in a pan with the red wine and brown sugar. Simmer until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of runny ice-cream topping. Allow to cool while you arrange ice cream in each bowl. Place the plums on top of the ice cream and generously drizzle the wine sauce over each serve. Serve immediately.
You can also use a sweet white wine with tinned pears or peaches for scrumptious variations.
Last month, Connie San Juan asked:
"I have children who have to drink lactose free milk, which is priced between $1.80 per litre when on special and about $2.10 normally. I wonder if there is anyone out there who would know how to buy cheaper lactose free milk. This would be a great help."
Here are some of your suggestions:
My youngest child was born lactose intolerant. He was brought up on soy milk, which we used in custards, porridge and all our cooking. There are also flavoured long life soy milks available and even some soy based ice-cream.
For a while, during an illness, one of my sons was lactose intolerant and I found that if I bought Infasoy (there are many brands) powdered infant formula in the 900 gram tin and made up a litre myself regularly there was no waste. He had it on cereal and with milo drinks and he even drank it plain, heated or cold. The tin cost around $11 and lasted me around two to three weeks as it made approximately 10 litres. The added saving benefit was that you could make what you needed when you needed it.
You can purchase a bottle of drops at the chemist that will take the lactose out of ordinary milk. You only use a few drops per litre and let the milk sit for 24 hours before using. Then the whole family can use the cheapest milk you can buy.
If you are lactose intolerant try A2 milk. It is said to be good for lactose intolerant people and those with other ailments. My son has asthma and he has been drinking it for almost four months and hasn't needed to use a puffer.
Read the information that is on the supermarket shelf and also check out the website. It is $3.99 at Woolies for a 2 litre bottle but dearer at Action, Coles and Bi-Lo.
There are more milk solutions in the 'Groceries -> Dairy' section of the Vault.
This month, Sue Watson asked:
"Photos provide such precious memories, so I've always purchased Kodak or Agfa film and had it developed by Kodak or Agfa. As I don't want to risk losing those precious memories by purchasing poor quality film and having them developed cheaply, I have two questions: Is there a difference in the quality of home brand film compared with brand name film, and is there a difference in the quality of a basic set of prints being developed at a brand name outlet versus the supermarket/chemist/web alternatives?"
To help Sue, go to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/.
We recently needed to move house, and decided to buy rather than rent. Not knowing anything about prices in the area we were moving to, we bought a property report from 'Home Price Guide' (www.homepriceguide.com.au). We chose to buy a report which covered all the sales in the area for the past two years for $85 (you can choose shorter amounts of time which are cheaper). When looking at properties that were being advertised, we could check our report and see what else had sold on the same street and for what price recently, and whether some areas seemed to be growing in price or dropping and so on. We found the information invaluable, and were able to make offers based on actual prices. We ended up paying $20,000 less than the asking price for our place, as we knew what properties were worth, and could back up our offer with actual statistics. I would recommend buying a property report on historical sales to anyone that is looking to buy. It cost us $85, but saved us thousands in the end.
The Savings Vault is our paid members area. It costs $47 per year and it is chock full of saving hints. Joining the Vault will give you more control. If you want to start learning how to lower your electricity bill you can go to that section of the vault right away rather than have to wait till we include a hint on electricity in the newsletter. To give you an idea of how many ways you can save money, have a look at the Savings Vault preview page.
To become a member go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
Last month's newsletter mentioned using hot water bottles. We just wanted to remind everyone of some safety issues. Hot water bottles are intended to be filled with 'hot' but definitely not boiling water. You are not supposed to lie on or apply large amounts of pressure to hot water bottles. They can burst! Do not leave them in the one spot on your body for more than 10 minutes. Be sure to check your hot water bottle for signs of wear and manufacturer's faults. They can split, burst or leak through manufacturing faults or general wear and tear. Buy a new hot water bottle if yours starts looking worn.
If you have encountered a problem with our newsletter, please email me. I will give your comments immediate attention.
© 2004 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.