This issue includes:-
How are you doing? Can you believe Jacqui turns one this month? This time last year I was 37 weeks pregnant and trying to reach the keyboard over my enormous belly! How time flies.
To celebrate Jacqui's birthday on 29th April we are going to launch a brand new product to compliment the Savings Vault. The mystery product (I can't tell you what it is until the lawyers give the 'all clear') will be individually numbered and we are going to start pre-selling them at midnight on 29th April. They range from $37 to $67. It is so exciting! I will keep you updated from week to week. *big grin*
Thank you for your fantastic letters. They are absolutely wonderful!
"I think your site is probably one of the best I have ever seen in Australia. What a brilliant idea!!" (Liz Green)
"I would like to thank you for your site. I joined on 11th February and I have had a great time searching the vault. I have saved my family $56 already! I have also written down five A4 pages of ideas that I would like to try. I have well and truly doubled my money already. Thank you very much and I will be a regular visitor of the vault. Keep up the great work." (Debbie Schulze)
"I was really happy to find your site, as I am a single mother who has struggled with health problems, and who has only worked part-time for the last ten years. Sharing ideas and reading other people's hints and experiences is terrific. Thank you." (Colleen Logie)
"Over a year ago you offered me a free membership when I enquired as to how much of the savings on your site would be useful here in New Zealand. I am happy to report that an estimate would be that about 60% of the information would be relevant. Obviously we don't have a lot of the brands / markets / stores or utility companies etc. that you have in Australia, and some of the websites that have good deals only apply to Australia. I have renewed my membership today because it has been fun and worthwhile making savings. As a result, we are off to Plantation Island in Fiji because of the $50 a week I have pocketed away every week for two years!!" (Shara Picketts)
"Thanks for a wonderful web site. I have saved heaps. I can spend hours looking for ways to save. Fantastic site keep up the good work." (Annette Perkins)
"I had a good look at your wedding hints area as we are planning a simple wedding and want to keep the costs down. A REALLY wonderful tip was the one about the chocolate favours - we went straight down to the Chocolate Factory at Currumbin (Gold Coast, QLD, next to the Bird Sanctuary) and we found the hint was absolutely correct! Absolutely fantastic. It was really special. Thanks very much for this great hint." (Marj Henderson)
Have a fantastic month!
PS. If you enjoy these newsletters but are not currently a member of our Savings Vault, have you considered buying a membership? Simple Savings is growing at a fantastic rate, but for us to continue improving the site, we really need more staff. Good programmers cost a LOT of money. So can you please help us make this site better for everyone. The secure order form is at www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
Even if becoming a Vault member just isn't an option right now, there are other ways you can be involved. Just click on www.simplesavings.com.au/tellafriend/ and tell your friends about Simple Savings. If you follow the link and use the form you could earn yourself three months bonus membership. We really appreciate your help in spreading the word.
It is the day after Mother's Day and Happy Hanna is getting ready for work. Just before she leaves, she picks up a block of chocolate. "What is that for?" her husband asks. "To cheer up Sally", replies Hanna. "It was Mother's Day yesterday." "Ah, yes." said her husband. "I love you. You are very kind." Happy Hanna kisses him and says "Thank you for a great day yesterday, I had a wonderful time!" She heads off to work, smiling.
When she arrives, Sad Sally is already at her desk. They work until morning tea when Hanna brings out the chocolate. "Come on, let's have a coffee. I brought chocolate!" "Sounds great", says Sally with a half hearted smile.
"Come and have a seat" says Hanna. "So how was your weekend, did you do anything special?" Sally bursts into tears.
"My own family don't have any time for me", she sniffed. "I didn't even get a lousy cup of tea on Mother's Day. They don't appreciate how hard I work for them. It's making me so depressed. I have to work all hours to hold everything together, but the debts just keep getting higher and higher."
"Oh Sal, you poor thing", consoled Hanna. "Did I ever tell you about the time I visited a debt counsellor?"
"You?" Sad Sally's eyes almost popped out of her head. "Yes, me. It was many years ago. My marriage was on the rocks and I sought some advice. The counsellor told me that if I could take control of my spending, the debt would fade away and the financial strain would disappear from our marriage. He was right. My bad spending habits were ruining my life. I cut up my credit card, wrote a budget, learned how to think before I bought anything and we have never looked back. Now I do all sorts of things to save money and the funny thing is, we are all so much happier. Isn't it worth giving it a try?", smiled Hanna.
Sad Sally blew into her hanky, "Thanks Hanna. I can see how well it's worked for you but it would never work for me - not with my ungrateful bunch. Is there any more of that chocolate?"
It is never a good time to be affected by ill health, but if you are lucky and approach things with the right attitude you can become fitter, smarter, and stronger for the experience.
You may know that last year we had a tough six months. My family and I kept getting sick. Luckily, we had enough money saved that we could pay for the best medical care. We visited GP's, several specialists, an osteopath, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, several chiropractors, and an amazing homeopath. The homeopath was amazing because she made us all better, and thanks to her we are now much fitter and stronger.
Getting sick last year meant we were able to evaluate several types of health care and I discovered that Homeopathy is the most effective and cheapest form of medicine for a family. The remedies work faster than Paracetamol, have an extremely long shelf life, and are completely non-toxic. The homeopathic remedies work so well that they make being a mum a lot easier!
Sadly, most people don't know what homeopathy is, how well it works, when you can use it or the massive long term savings parents can make by learning how to treat their families. So we are very fortunate that our family's homeopath, Fran Sheffield, has agreed to join our team of writers. With Fran's advice and experience we can all explore inexpensive ways to keep our families healthy.
Fran is an astounding woman. She is a registered nurse and mid-wife, AHA registered Homeopath, and has a Masters degree in Health Science. If you would like to learn more about Fran or have a question for her, go to her website: www.homeolink.com.au
Before you go any further it is important to note that not all homeopaths are equal. While good homeopaths are astounding, bad homeopaths can be dangerous. Make sure your homeopath is registered with the Australian Homeopathic Association. (http://www.homeopathyoz.org/) These remedies are very powerful and can do remarkable things in the right hands but if misused can create some bizarre results!
Somi was an extremely abusive 7 year old before discovering a proper homeopath. His mum had spent over $1,000 on naturopathic treatment, he was about to be expelled from primary school, placed on extremely expensive suppressants, and not to mention massive specialists bills ($220 per visit). Without Fran the financial strain of Somi's behaviour would have been massive. But Fran turned his family's life around in less than four months and five appointments, which only cost $330. You can see why I think she is a genius. To read Somi's story go to
Mums really do make the world go round. This month, we want to help say a special thanks to all these amazing ladies by designing some very different personalized 'awards'. Show your Mum or grandmother how special they are by giving them an award certificate this Mother's Day. The awards are funny, fantastic, and free to download; all it will cost you is the cost of printing. You can choose from the following
World's Most Unflappable Mum
World's Grooviest Grandma
World's Most Supportive Mum
World's Best Stepmum
World's Smiliest Mum
World's Toughest Mum
World's Kindest Mum
World's Best Cook
World's Best Great Grandma
To make your Mum smile this Mother's Day go to - www.simplesavings.com.au/freestuff/
I love giving and receiving gifts on Mother's Day. It is fun and the best presents are "gifts of love". They cost very little money and truly show how much you care about a person. But, sometimes thinking of something to make or give is difficult, so here are a couple of great ideas from the vault - in case you haven't been able to save up and buy a membership yet!
Teach your kids by being a great role model. Gifts are a token of appreciation. So teach them how to make a cup of tea, how to cook, clean, and take care of themselves. On Mother's Day ask them to show you how much they have learned from you rather than from the advertisers.
This year my daughter (8) brought me a cup of tea in bed and then climbed in with me for a cuddle. She still wanted to buy me some flowers and chocolate, but I made sure she knew that the cuppa and cuddle in bed were the gifts I treasured most. Teach them well, reinforce with your own behaviour, and it will be Mother's Day every day.
Use coloured card and decorate with photos of family members, pets, and so on. Organise photos on card before gluing in place. Decorative borders can be added, using shiny paper cut into a pattern, or using stickers. A special message for Mum can also be added. Laminate.
For the cost of a few brown lunch paper bags and empty toilet roll holders, I had the most entertaining Mother's Day! My gorgeous children and husband put on a puppet show for my special day. The night before, they prepared invitations, decided on the show they would do, and who was going to play which characters. Using paper lunch bags and toilet roll holders, they set about making the characters. On the morning of Mother's Day, they distributed the invitations, readied the house, and made some snacks as the 'advertised' refreshments (very cute). At 2pm, myself and their grandmother were present for the puppet show. My husband took on the narrator role and they presented 'The Three Little Pigs', which was just adorable. The cost was virtually nothing, yet I felt spoilt rotten and truly blessed.
Help a friend by printing out some of our new Free Tip Sheets. Go to www.simplesavings.com.au/tipsheets/ and view the new tip sheets. You will notice down the bottom of the tip sheet is a form for your friends to fill out. Write your name on the sheet as the referrer before you give one to anyone, so if they ask to join our free newsletter and then join the Savings Vault you will receive a three month subscription to the Vault. Print them out to share with your local Playgroup, Business Meeting or just with friends over coffee - you will be helping your friends and you might even get a bonus membership!
Think twice before buying expensive cleaners. There are tips for buying in bulk, homemade recipes, and general cleaning tips for the entire house!
Don't pay a fortune for paper and gifts. Learn the art of affordable gift giving and surprise your friends and family with personal treasures. Pick up great bargains throughout the year and involve your kids in some creative card making.
To view and/or download the tip sheets: www.simplesavings.com.au/tipsheets/
Last month we had two help requests.
Denise Howard asked:
"Would anyone have any ideas for disability aids for the elderly? Most aids available are very expensive. Quite a lot of older people have problems, especially with holding things due to arthritic fingers etc. I have tried a lot of places, such as the Red Cross and others. Any other suggestions would be most welcome."
Carole Patterson asked:
"I'm a great believer in the use of vitamin/herbal supplements and natural remedies, but they are affecting my finances quite heavily. Has anyone discovered a genuine discounter of these types of products either in the Melbourne area or via the Internet? Thanks in advance for your help."
You have all been marvellous and we received many wonderful suggestions and helpful advice for both Denise and Carol. Here is a sample of your exceptional hints.
Here are a couple of the fantastic tips members sent in. The rest are in the Savings Vault.
You can make some effective aids yourself. For instance, you can go to a plumber's suppliers and buy small pieces of insulating piping, that can be used to make larger handles on cutlery, pens, and toothbrushes.
St Vincent de Paul furniture op shops have some very good aids for the elderly. I have managed to get a commode chair for my father-in-law and I have seen several styles of walking frame. Keep an eye out!
Those who are over 60 or on a disability pension can apply for Home Assist Secure. They are a Government funded foundation who supply subsidised assistance for work in the home, including security work. My mother-in-law has Alzheimer's and my husband moved in with her last year to take care of her. When she needed a few jobs done around the home, I had her assessed for Home Assist Secure.
This has saved us a small fortune. We bought her a safer oven top (from a discount store) and had it installed for free! We have had an isolator switch (to prevent turning the oven and hotplates on during the day) installed for free, a downlight installed only for the cost of the new downlight, and a new wooden post installed on the patio as it the old one had wood rot. We don't pay for any labour, only parts; this makes a huge difference when trying to maintain a safe home for a disabled or elderly person. Home Assist Secure have a budget to spend each month, so in some cases they will do extra work at the end of the month for you just to deplete their budget. For more information their website for QLD is http://www.housing.qld.gov.au/building/assistance/home_assist_secure.htm
Wow! There are so many ways to save on vitamins. The girls and I have learnt a lot this month. Here are our favourites. The others are stored in the Savings Vault.
If you take vitamins and natural remedies, it actually pays to visit a qualified naturopath. They will tell you exactly which supplements you need to be taking, and could save you a lot of money otherwise spent on tablets your body does not actually need.
I have used vitamins and natural remedies for years and thought they were really effective until I consulted a very good naturopath recently. It cost me $60 for a 90 minute session, but at the end of the visit she had pinpointed exactly what I needed and prescribed me a multivitamin tablet that I only take once a day.
With 60 tablets in a packet costing $25 - this equates to just $0.41c per day for a high quality multivitamin and mineral tablet that covers exactly what my body needs. I would strongly recommend seeing a naturopath once to find out what your needs are before spending large amounts on products that may be poorer in quality and more expensive.
One possible way to save hundreds of dollars on buying vitamins and supplements we may not actually need is to go and get a full blood and faeces check to determine exactly what vitamins and minerals you are lacking.
That way, if you do need to take a supplement you are only buying what you actually need.
The cheapest supplements come from a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you don't have any major medical issues, your body is quite able to cope with minor infections and other ailments. Any natural supplements can be found in food, e.g. garlic for immunity, liqorice for constipation, cheese for diarrhoea, cranberry juice for urinary irritation to name a few!
Most herbs can be easily grown in most parts of Australia. Why not grow your own and make your own herbal teas and tonics? To learn how, borrow "Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies" by Penny Woodward from your local library.
All of these outlets provide excellent quality products at competitive prices:
Last month we asked you if eBay (TradeMe in NZ) was cheap or expensive? Does eBay cost you money or save you money? What is your experience with eBay? You told us what you think of eBay and how you get the best out of it. Your tips and stories were super. Here are a few.
Check the real price of the item you are bidding on, and ask questions of the seller regarding its condition. Request further photos if necessary. Many items on eBay are secondhand, so you should be paying much less than for the new item. Always consider the postage into your cost, and don't lose your head in the bidding war. You may end up paying more than the item is worth!
The other thing to consider is that it is very likely that there will be the same item, for auction at a later time, so you will more than likely get another chance to buy it at a lower price. I generally put a handful of these same items on 'watch' and keep an eye on the first couple to see what they sell for. This then gives me an idea of what I am likely to pay when I do decide to bid. eBay is great for buying old versions of things that can no longer be purchased in stores - such as old computer software and parts, and mobile phone accessories.
eBay offers better cover on purchases now, with Escrow available on bigger purchases, and sellers don't want bad feedback, so they will generally help out if there are any problems with your purchase.
Member feedback is really important when buying - the lowest percentage of positive feedback I would go down to when considering purchasing from another member would be about 98%. Check for negative feedback against a potential trader, and if you find it, always look to see what the potential problem may be. Another thing to be wary of, especially when it comes to cosmetics, is to find out exactly what size product you are bidding for - there is nothing worse than bidding $10 on a product that was probably given out as a free sample! Postage is a pain, but necessary - the seller should not be out of pocket for selling something. Before bidding, think about the item, and factor the cost of postage before deciding on your final bidding limit.
As a seller, I've found that the lower you set your starting price, the more people will be interested. Sometimes you don't get the money you were hoping for, but it's still better to sell it than for it to stay at home and clutter up the house!
When using eBay, be wary of DVD movies - you need to make sure they are able to be viewed on your Australian DVD player, and in English. I bought a Wizard of Oz DVD with special features, only to have it arrive with Chinese subtitles and the movie only, no extra scenes as promised. The disc was also heavily scratched, although still sealed in the pack! On the whole though, my other eBay experiences have been excellent.
Using eBay is a far easier and cheaper way than advertising in classifieds, and much less hassle than a garage sale! Over a couple of weeks, I managed to make $500 for our holiday just by listing items I would have sold at a garage sale (most likely for less, as all items sold in excess of their starting bids), and it only cost me around $40 in listing fees. eBay send you an invoice, and deduct it direct from your nominated bank account, so you don't have to worry about the bill paying from that end.
I have been a seller on eBay for many years. When I began, about 5 years ago, eBay was a huge hit for novelty character items. When I found out that international customers would pay up to $30 or more for an item which cost me less than $5, I was hooked. Unfortunately the selling bug took over me and my home! My little study was covered wall-to-wall, ceiling to floor with junk that I wanted to sell. Sure, the money came in, but due to the selling 'bug' I had caught, the money went right back out to buy more.
Before long I was overwhelmed, tired, grumpy, enjoyed less time with my babies, and above all, I ended up BROKE! If you are - like me - not disciplined with money and the thrill of selling seems fun at first - be careful. Be very, very careful!
This month John Keeps asked:
"I'm sick of paying really high rent and still having to move house at someone else's whim. I envy people who live in their one house for twenty years, but I'm a long way from being able to buy my own home. Can you please ask your members if they have any tips for finding affordable long term accommodation?"
If you can help John go to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints
Here is our favourite Saving Story this month. It was great reading Tracy's story and being reminded how easy it is to save serious dough. To read more stories like it, go to the Savings Stories section of the vault.
We have saved a massive $12,530 on holiday accommodation over five years. We paid $5,000 for our secondhand caravan, including the annexe. It costs us $200 a year to register and insure the van as well.
We have both a tent and a caravan, and so we have camped for over nine years, as a family (and before!). We bought the caravan five years ago and have saved a bundle, even when you take into consideration the purchase of the caravan. A little maths to demonstrate:
I worked out we've been away for roughly 170 nights in five years, including long weekends and family holidays. If we had stayed in motels or cabins to accommodate five, it would cost $130 per night average ($22,100 over five years). On the other hand, a powered site to accommodate five costs around $21 per night average ($3,570 over five years).
We have enjoyed wonderful holidays with our children and friends. Not only have we saved a huge amount of money on our holidays, but we have enjoyed some beautiful memories with our children. If we were limited to park cabins and motels we would not have been able to go away anywhere near as often. We would have missed out on so much enjoyment, and many precious memories.
What would you do with an extra $3,000 a year? Would you save it and watch it grow even further, or spend it and enjoy every cent? Perhaps a family holiday, home renovations, a more reliable car? It's fun to imagine what we could accomplish with more money, but for some of us, pipe dreams can become reality. As an average figure, Simple Savings members have shown that a saving of $3,000 per year is a realistic achievement for members of our Savings Vault. For just $47 (the cost of your first year of membership), results such as these can be yours. Full membership gives you instant access to all the knowledge you need to begin saving more money. Eighty percent of the information in the Savings Vault will help you save smarter no matter where you live. A single hint learned from our Savings Vault could recoup your money - and pocket a nice bonus!
Our many testimonials from happy members show just how easy it is to save money. If you are keen to try the Savings Vault for yourself, but the cost is holding you back, or you are afraid it is something you may never use, we have a 'no questions asked' refund policy. You have a full year to ask for your money back. Our objective is for you to get excellent value in everything you buy, including your membership to the Savings Vault. What do you have to lose?
To become a member go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
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.