This issue includes:-
How are you doing? Guess what! We have great news this month. The Savings Vault has reached 6,000 hints. Can you believe it! Just think two years ago when we first appeared on TV the vault only had 332 tips in it!
You may have noticed this newsletter is a little early this month. It is because we have made some fantastic Valentine's gifts for you to print. I had some help creating these ones so they are better than ever.
Your letters of thanks are just amazing. It is hard to believe that my husband Matt and I have built a site that changes people's lives like this one does. Messages like these ones make me smile every time I read them:
"Thank you ever so much for your site. After saving so much because of your awesome Simple Savings secrets, we are having a big holiday this month overseas seeing my family. Thanks Fiona. This is a real dream holiday after ten years!" (Mell & Roger Aganon)
"I would just like to say a BIG thank you to Simple Savings and to Rob McGlynn because I recently saved $200 on a new ceramic cooktop by using the method described by Rob in his hint. I paid $598 instead of $798 and I was delighted! Thank you." (Tanya Wessels)
"Thanks for the great newsletters. Keep up the good work. Hope that the Simple Savings launch in New Zealand goes well. I am sure that the Kiwis will embrace you. As an ex-Kiwi, I feel really inspired when I hear about new things that happen between our two countries. Once again, keep up the good work." (Alison Johnson)
"I've been to Tasmania recently to visit my daughter, who is renovating an old heritage property there and having lots of fun finding stuff and especially enjoying the weather. I gave her the addresses of some of the places where she could get cheap things from the Simple Savings list and it has really helped. Thanks to the Vault!" (Ellen Thompson)
"Thanks for a truly wonderful website. There are some 'triers' out there and some very clever ones like yours! Thanks also for Priceless Pets. What a saving they offer!" (Lesley Lanyon)
Have a fantastic month!
It is February 15 and Happy Hanna arrives at work with a huge smile on her face. It is bigger than usual and she seems really pleased with herself. Sad Sally can't help asking, "What happened to you?"
Happy Hanna's smile grows even wider. "We had the most fantastic night!"
"Oh", Sad Sally sighs, "Valentine's Day. Go on - tell me all about it."
"Are you sure?"
Happy Hanna gushes, "You are not going to believe what John did. He took me out to dinner at 'Forty One'! Can you believe it? $200 per head! He paid the bill from a dog-eared envelope he had been stashing money in for almost a year. It was the most beautiful night. I have never tasted food like that before in my life. I love him so much."
"Forty One?" Sally questioned rather snidely. "I thought you would have gone on a picnic."
"It is funny you say that. That is what John did last year! What did you do? Did you have a good night?"
"Hmmm... Peter worked late. Apparently he had some really important things he had to do at the office. It's strange - he rarely ever has to work late. He says he will make it up to me next year."
Happy Hanna gave a sympathetic smile.
Who are you most like? Hanna or Sally? Which person would you like to be?
Sad Sally's situation is, sadly, all too common. It is a lot easier to have a happy marriage if it isn't being sabotaged by financial woes.
Here are some of the money tips our members use to keep their marriage fresh and new, plus a few 'sweet' ideas for your last-minute Valentine:
No matter how tight your budget, it is very important to allow an amount of money each week or fortnight that is for you to do with what you want.
If you are in a relationship, it is imperative that each of you have a sum of money (large or small) to spend as you wish with no questions asked. This gives pleasure and also creates an abundance mentality.
With five children, my time is limited and shopping is chaos, so I pay all my bills by B-pay using the phone on pay day, which saves me time and petrol. It costs just the price of a local phone call and takes about 10 minutes to do. I also transfer my savings before I leave home and then I'm left with only the petrol and food money so that I can't overspend.
My bank balance is going up, my bills are paid, and that makes me feel less stressed and happier. I love this site!
Finding the cash for those 'unexpected' council bills, car insurance accounts and so on is no longer a problem for us. My wife and I have developed a habit of putting all our loose change into a coin box every night. Yesterday I opened up the coin box for only the second time. Guess what? We had $600 saved after only six months - enough to pay off our car insurance! In 12 months we have saved more than $1,200. We probably would have spent all that loose change if we had not started this practice. Happy saving! We trust you have as much fun as we do opening the coin box!
For Valentine's Day this year, instead of buying my husband a present he will never use, I am going to buy a box of chocolates and wrap each chocolate in a pink or red heart-shaped note, saying what I love about him. I'll also scatter a few blank hearts and some confetti made with a hole (or shape) punch on top of the chocolates for an added surprise when he lifts the lid.
I know he'll love it, it will be good for our relationship and it should cost me no more than $10.
These are the best vouchers that have ever been added to our site. They are gorgeous and funny. All you have to do is click, print and give. Then watch your valentine grin from ear to ear! Even if you aren't planning on giving anyone a Valentine's present, these love notes are worth a look. Use the link below to go to the love notes page and print out your favourite vouchers. And, if you don't have a Valentine, give one to yourself.
To view and/or download the free love notes go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/freestuff/
What would you do with an extra $3,000 a year? Would you save it and watch it grow, or spend it and enjoy every cent? Perhaps a family holiday, home renovations, a more reliable car? It's fun to imagine, but where will you get all this extra money? Chances are you already have it. All you have to do is hang on to it and stop it seeping out of your pocket on excessive or unnecessary bills. If you want an extra $3,000 you will need a big fat plug to stop all the money leaking out of your wallet - and that is what the Saving Vault is. On average, Simple Savings Vault members lower their bills by $3,000 per year. So at the end of each year they are $3,000 better off and their membership only cost $47.
Our letters from happy members show how easy it is to save money. If you are keen to try the Savings Vault, but the cost is holding you back, we have a 'no questions asked' refund policy. You have a full year to ask for your money back.
To become a member go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
If you begrudge spending money on the vast array of expensive 'miracle cleaners', check your pantry for a far more affordable substitute - vinegar! Vinegar is amazing stuff, which can save you money on washing and cleaning. You only need to look in the Vault and see the huge range of tips from contributors to discover the wonder of vinegar. Here are a few of our favourites. You can find more by typing the word 'vinegar' in the search field at the top right corner of the Vault pages.
Instead of using fabric softener in your washing, use the cheapest white vinegar that you can buy - the same amount that you would normally use of fabric softener. It not only softens your washing and leaves it smelling beautifully fresh (no vinegar smells, honest!) but it also cleans the sudsy residue that builds up in your washing machine, thus keeping down the repair bills as well! It normally costs about $1.00 for 2 litres of vinegar instead of around $4.00 for the same amount of fabric softener. The white vinegar also has the added benefit of not 'eating' away your Lycra garments such as lingerie and hose, which just happens to be a 'side effect' of fabric softeners!
I have saved heaps by no longer buying expensive cleaning products. To clean my toilet, bath or shower, I quickly wet the area and let most of the water drain away. I then sprinkle the whole area with bicarbonate soda, using a small shaker (you can get them at K-Mart for a few dollars). I then spray it with cheap white vinegar in a spray bottle. There is a slight chemical reaction that dissolves all the mould and dirt. Leave it for a few minutes to work. You still have to scrub a little and you may need to re-do any heavily soiled areas. It also works for bench tops and sinks. It is a cheap alternative to chemicals and good for the environment too.
To kill weeds simply fill a spray bottle with brown vinegar and spray directly onto the weed. It is particularly great for weeds that grow through your pavers. It works a treat, is environmentally friendly and safe to use around your pets and children.
White vinegar has long been used to relieve the pain of insect bites. Just dab on the bites.
There is also no better and cheaper pain relief than ice. One piece in the mouth and one on the bite will keep small children quiet for long enough to forget about the offending sting or bite.
To ease sunburn pain - in fact it will completely disappear overnight - put vinegar on the burn and keep it moist. If it's sore to touch, fill up a spray bottle and spray it on. Otherwise you can wet a piece of cloth with vinegar and dab it onto the burn. The vinegar will remove both the heat and the sting! As long as you keep using the vinegar on the burn for a few hours (I've been known to fall asleep with a wet sheet on my arm!), the sunburn will be all but gone by morning. No more pain, no peeling - and a firm reminder to wear sunscreen!
My favourite generic product is vinegar. It costs approximately $1.20 for 2 litres and I use it instead of fabric softener and for cleaning around the home. For these purposes there is no difference in the result you get from brand label equivalents. Plus, you're saving money on buying separate products as it is a cheaper alternative than shower cleaner, surface cleaner and fabric softener.
Try using vinegar in your dishwasher instead of rinse aid. It is much cheaper and removes tea and coffee stains from cups. If you put vinegar in the bottom of the machine for the final rinse, it will leave your glassware sparkling.
We had a terrific response to last month's competition for five lucky entrants to win a 12-month membership. We asked you to tell us what you had found to be the best and worst value items at the supermarket. The entries were very entertaining and at times intriguing - thank you to all those who entered!
The winners are:
Cashew nuts (and nuts in general) have to belong in the worst priced category.
Being a mostly vegetarian household, nuts are a staple. With seven-month-old twins and a toddler at home, my husband is in charge of most of the shopping.
Sometimes in a rush he buys lots of small bags of nuts. Without being critical but to demonstrate to him how expensive buying nuts this way can be, I went through some recent dockets to determine the price per kilo.
1. Nobby's Cashews - 150 g for $3.95 = $26.33 per kg
2: Nobby's Mixed Nuts - 200 g for $6.29 = $31.45 per kg
3: Pine nuts (brand not stated) - 100 g for $4.74 = $47.40 per kg
With this information on board, he came home today with a Scalzo 750 gram value pack for $12.98 from Coles (which equates to $17.31 per kilogram - a saving of $9.03 per kilo). A big difference, and they taste just as good!
Cashews - you must be nuts to buy in small bags!
Woolworths often sell packaged sides of lamb for $6.97 per kilo. These contain all the different cuts of lamb - the leg, cutlets, loin and chump chops, leg steaks, ribs and stewing chops - all for the same price per kilo as the cheapest cuts normally sell for. As cutlets can cost over $25 per kilo and loin chops about $15 per kilo, this is great value.
I recently purchased a side of lamb for $42. For that, I got a large leg which made a roast dinner for a family of four and provided sandwiches for three days - and there was enough meat left over to make two family-sized Shepherd's Pies. I cooked up all the stewing chops and shanks using my favourite recipe, getting four generous family-sized portions, which I froze individually. The chops, steaks and cutlets I packaged up into family-sized portions and froze, also getting four meal-sized portions.
I therefore got the equivalent of 11 lamb meals, plus sandwiches, all for less than $4.00 per family meal. As a typical lamb chop or cutlet dinner for the family would usually cost $10, if not more, this is a huge saving!
Kraft cheese slices are better value than the home brand - 81 slices for around $7.00 compared to 48 home brand slices for $6.00. You still only use one slice and the packet goes nearly twice as far!
With school starting soon, go to Coles for your glue sticks!
I saw glue sticks (9 grams) at The Warehouse for 99 cents, which I thought was a good price until I went to my local Coles supermarket where they had the same size glue stick (different brand) for 29 cents - a 70 percent saving!
The best value product in my regular grocery shopping is Woolworths home brand rolled oats ($1.55 for 1.1 kilograms). This will provide two people with breakfast for approximately two weeks, which works out to 11 cents a day.
The worst value at the same Woolworths: 'Queen' brand vanilla bean pods (5 grams for $7.86) - this works out to $1,572 a kilo! It ought to come in a solid gold box for that price!
Last month, Emily Morrison asked for help with a similar value-related topic:
"Is it just my imagination, or are grocery items being sold with smaller quantities for the same price? I was wondering if other members have experienced the same thing. What items should we be specifically wary of?"
The number of responses agreeing with Emily proved she was right; it is a very common. Here is a selection of our favourites.
I found by accident that the home brand paper towel at Woolworth's has shrunk in width by about 1 centimetre! I happened to have some still left on the roll when I bought more, and when I compared the two I found the new roll to be narrower. I also think the quality has reduced, so I am very reluctant to buy this product again.
I have noticed that 1 kilo yoghurt has changed to 700 gram tubs, some cans have been reduced from 425 grams to 415 or 410 grams (just so you wouldn't notice), condensed milk is now down to 395 grams instead of 425 grams, and some bulk packs of bacon have been reduced from 1 kilo packs to 700 gram packs. Even some cheeses that used to come in 1 kilo blocks are now being sold in 750 gram blocks.
My advice - be as vigilant as ever, especially when specials are advertised! These are often for 700 grams, not 1 kilogram as you may think.
I recently spotted that Morning Fresh has changed the largest size from 1 litre to 900 ml - but the price remains the same! Tins of tuna weigh anything from 90 grams to 110 grams and the price varies a lot. You may think you are getting a special, but you aren't because of the weight difference. Pasta sauces fall into the same category; you really have to read the weight on the label, and then work out which one is cheapest. It may not be the one that is on special! Sanitary pads are another good example: you can purchase Stayfree 12-pack ultra-thins for $4.95, but it is cheaper to buy the packs of 20 for $7.05 (normal price). A 'special' price on the 12 pack would need to be at or below $4.23 to actually save you money. So you need to work out the amount per pad as the quantities are slightly different.
I have been using Gaviscon tablets for many years, and in recent months the size of the tablets has been halved, as has the quantity of the active ingredients. The number of tablets in the box remains the same and so does the price, so you are paying the same for half as much as there used to be! Depending on the chemist, you can pay between $8.45 and $12.80 a packet.
I have found the liquid to be much cheaper, usually around the $7.50 mark, and it lasts about twice as long. For those on a pension, you can get two bottles on prescription, and when you reach the threshold, you get them for free. The tablets may be more convenient to use, but I am happy with the savings I make using the liquid.
One thing our members can be assured of is that when a product comes personally recommended by us, you are guaranteed the best value for money every time. We are pleased to welcome another fantastic site to our Simple Savings Recommends Program this month. The Simple Savings Recommends Program includes companies that we have found to provide genuine savings, beneficial to all Australians.
The site below has recently been awarded our stamp of approval.
Destitute Gourmet is a perfect example of a company promoting how you can live well for less. If stylish, fashionable food that doesn't cost a fortune appeals to you, you will love their range of cookbooks and online recipes. With popular titles such as Stunning Food from Small Change and Everyday Smart Food for the Family, their recipes are sure to become popular additions to your weekly menu. Frugal food writer Sophie Gray (a.k.a. the Destitute Gourmet), adds a refreshing element to the 'waste not, want not' philosophy and, unlike with most other cookbooks, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you have most of the ingredients you need already in your cupboards!
Sophie, along with husband Richard, also runs cooking workshops, writes magazine articles, and presents television and radio segments relating to an impressive range of food on a budget. The pair has heaps of money saving ideas and techniques for reducing the grocery budget without sacrificing good food. We particularly like their kid-friendly ideas - if you struggle to get your children to eat vegetables and other 'grown-up' foods, Sophie may just have the answer in some of her yummy recipes!
Check out their website and we're sure you'll be as impressed as we are.
This month Amanda Jonats has asked:
"My future father-in-law is retiring this year in May and we are trying to think of affordable gift ideas that will also be significant to mark the occasion. One of his dreams is to travel around Australia, but even with donations from a family of five this will not be possible. Does anyone have any great ideas or suggestions?"
If you can help Amanda, go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
Many households face the ongoing issue of their teenagers running up outrageous telephone accounts (and then expecting Mum and Dad to foot the bill)! If this sounds familiar, Joanne Pritchard may have the answer!
Huge saving on teenage telephone bills
I have saved well over $700 by having 'Call Control' put on my phone. Thanks to my house of teenagers, my phone bill to mobiles alone was averaging $250 per month!
I was sick of paying these large bills, so I rang my phone carrier and asked for a Call Control to be put on my phone at a cost of $4.00 per month.
Call Control lets you bar certain types of outgoing calls (e.g. STD, international and mobiles), so that you can control your call costs. There are a number of barring levels for you to choose from. Your phone carrier will give you a PIN number and instructions on how to turn Call Control on and off.
To make an STD, international or mobile phone call you have to turn the Call Control off, make your phone call and then turn your Call Control on. I have had the Call Control on my phone for three months and my cost to mobiles has averaged from $10 to $15. My long distance phone calls have also dropped. In mobile phone calls alone I have saved $700 in three months! It will be interesting to see the savings over a 12-month period.
If you have encountered a problem with our newsletter, please email me. I will give your comments immediate attention.
© 2005 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.