This issue includes:-
How are you doing? We hit another huge milestone this month. There are now 7,000 hints in the Savings Vault. Wow! It is so hard to believe. I'm really grateful for the fantastic emails people have sent us this month. Here are two of my favourites:
"I have been a member since February 2004. I also received the newsletters and browsed the site, thinking I did not need to join to reap the benefits. How wrong I was! I finally took the plunge as I felt as though my husband and I were working long hours and getting nowhere fast. We had always been sensible with money (or so I thought) but we spiralled out of control and into debt when we signed up for a credit mortgage, which was like having a massive credit card. I found your website and became inspired to try and get back to a more manageable lifestyle for us and our three teenagers. Whenever we need something I look on the website for ideas first, it never lets me down. I think first before buying something - do I really need this? I even think we have better quality clothes and goods now, as I wait for the sales and shop around so I spend less to get more. A year later, we are in front with our mortgage, we have money put by for our children's 18th and 21st birthdays this year and I never have to worry about bills - the money is there when we need it.
"I also now have every second Friday off, something I never thought I would be able to achieve for a long, long time! My husband is so happy as he is a really hard worker and at last can see that we are finally getting somewhere. So pay the $47 - believe me, it is worth every cent and then some. I am so grateful for the day I browsed the web and found the site, it has given me a whole new perspective on saving money and peace of mind; something you just can't buy at any price. I hope the site continues for many many years and others are helped the way we have been." (Belinda Ridgeway)
"This week I saved $38 on the annual premiums for a green slip for my car and $168 on my contents insurance. I've also made a yummy lentil soup from the Destitute Gourmet site (I've never cooked with lentils before - and now I love them - cheap, healthy and yummy). We've also maintained our grocery spending at $125 per week (for a family of four) for the last six weeks, saving us $75 per week on our previous bill. I think the value that a $47 membership represents is amazing!!!" (Beth Pastore)
To read more fantastic emails go to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/manygrins
PS. If you want three months free membership to the Savings Vault check out our referral program at:- www.simplesavings.com.au/threemonthsfree
"Party time!" yelled Sad Sally, slapping a huge pile of magazines onto her desk. "So much to organise, it's going to be perfect!". Happy Hanna smiled back "Looks like you're going to be busy - it must be a big party!" "It's Peter's 40th, he really didn't want a big fuss, but you have to do these things properly don't you!" grinned Sally.
"I know what you mean," said Happy Hanna. "I'm hosting Mum and Dad's 40th Wedding Anniversary party. We are hiring the Community Hall, it has a fantastic kitchen. The kids and I are going to be busy."
"Honestly Hanna, why do you make so much work for yourself?" laughed Sally. "The caterers are going to take care of all the food and accessories; all I have to do is find a suitable band and organize Pete's birthday cake. How much booze do you think I need to get in for 100 people?"
"Hmm, I'd say you're looking at three kegs."
"A KEG?! I wouldn't be seen dead drinking out of a keg. That simply wouldn't do", scoffed Sally.
Happy Hanna thought to herself. "Here we go again."
Then Sad Sally asked, "What about food? How on earth are you going to feed so many people?"
"It's not that bad - I've been cooking and freezing savouries for the last few weekends and my sister is taking care of dessert. The kids and I will heat and serve things on the night."
"Really Hanna, why don't you use professional caterers? They only cost $25 per person. Do you really want to be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying the party?"
Happy Hanna's eyes nearly popped out of her head; "$2,500 just for food?? Our total food budget is $250! It would take me five weeks to earn $2,500!" Happy Hanna looked concerned. "Are you sure Pete wants you to spend that much money on his birthday party?"
Doubt flickered on Sad Sally's face. Then she waved her hand dismissively, "He says he doesn't want a big fuss, but he doesn't really mean it. Look, it's all written here." Sad Sally was pointing to an article in a glossy magazine titled 'How To Please Your Man'. "I'll throw him a party he'll never forget!"
Hanna thought to herself "Yeah... and never pay off."
Who are you most like, Sally or Hanna? Who would you rather be?
Both Sally and Hanna discovered that feeding a large group of people can involve a lot of time and effort, but the money that Hanna saved was well worth the time she put in. In today's hectic society, time is often short, people are tricked into buying expensive, inappropriately named 'convenience' food. It is not convenient when you factor in the time it took you to earn the $20 you spent to save five minutes cooking dinner. Nothing beats home cooking, it is nutritious, fast and cheap with the right recipes. We have some fantastic frugal cooks among our members and the Vault is chock-full of no-fuss low cost recipes. Check the Vault for inspiration, or try some of these to get you started!
This recipe will make about 30-40 ready-to-eat snow drops in 20 minutes for just a couple of dollars. The snow drops have got me out of a lot of last minute troubles, such as unexpected visitors or when kids say "Mum, what's to eat?" By making snow drops, you save on both time and money.
3 cups desiccated coconut
1 tin condensed milk
Mix ingredients in a bowl, then place small unshaped drops on to a greased biscuit tray. (Preparation time is five minutes.) Cook in moderate oven until light golden brown (approximately 10-15 minutes). Remove from oven and cool on rack.
3 medium sized, all purpose potatoes
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
A little melted butter to brush on the finished cakes.
Peel, chop and boil the potatoes as you would prepare for mashed potatoes. When tender, but not yet mushy, drain them well. Transfer to a bowl. Now, begin crushing the potatoes, while at the same time adding the flour and the salt. Work them together well. When potato flour mixture is mixed together, transfer dough onto a cutting board, or counter. Shape the dough into a long piece, resembling French bread. With a knife, slice the dough into one inch sections. Roll the slices of dough out into flat circles.
Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy, dry frying pan on top of the burner of your stove. Note, I stress a DRY pan. No oil or fat is used in making the flat bread. When your pan is searing hot, put in a flat bread circle. Cook until dough blisters and begins to brown. Turn and finish cooking the other side. When all of them are done, brush with the melted butter. (Or not, depending whether you're counting calories!) Serve warm.
Now, the fun part. Add your favourite filling in the middle of the flat bread, fold over, and eat like pita bread.
500g marinara mix (from deli in supermarket)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
Garlic to taste
Chilli to taste
Herbs to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
Heat olive oil in saucepan.
Sauté onion, garlic and chilli in oil.
Add marinara mix, sauté for two minutes.
Add tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and wine.
Bring to boil, and then simmer for five minutes.
Cook spaghetti in separate saucepan; drain and put on plates. Pour marinara mix over the top. Garnish with basil and parmesan cheese, serve with crusty bread roll or garlic bread.
When making Spaghetti Bolognaise I use approximately 500g mince and a 420g tin of Farmland three bean mix. With mince now costing around $7.50 a kilo, this makes feeding a family of four to five an expensive meal. So with a tin of beans costing $0.80c, you are looking at a saving of $3.00 per meal, by substituting a tin of beans for 500g of mince!
If your family is like mine and loves Spaghetti Bolognaise, you'll have it once a week - that's a saving of $156 per year. Obviously it's more of a saving if you buy mince when it's on sale.
I used this recipe for 30 years to feed my family when my purse was empty, no one ever knew. It's a bit like stretching a peanut butter sandwich to feed three or four. Maybe it will help someone else!
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons cold water
6 tablespoons breadcrumbs(fresh about 2 slices of bread)
1 small onion (chopped fine)
Mix all together with the back of a spoon until you form a paste. Form into six rissoles. Dredge lightly with flour and pan fry in a little oil until crisp and brown.
These are great with tomato sauce or gravy, flattened and used as hamburgers in a bun, or cold and served with salad.
This is one of my most favourite recipes which I use from the Destitute Gourmet recipe book. My three year old just loves it and my husband, who loves to eat big and eat meat, thinks it is great too. The dumplings are a great tummy filler instead of using more meat.
1.4kg blade or topside steak - use slow cooking cuts.
1/2 cup plain flour
2-3 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150ml red wine
600ml beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Cut the meat into cubes and toss it in the flour. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the meat in batches. Remove meat to a plate to keep warm. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook until soft; add red wine and simmer until reduced by half. Return the meat and juices to pan, add the beef stock, bay leaf and tomato paste, season with salt and pepper and simmer gently with the lid on until tender, 1.5 - 2 hours.
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Large pinch mixed herbs
Splash of cold water
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and herbs. Rub in the butter, then add enough water to make a soft dough. Divide the mixture into 8-10 small balls (the dumplings will increase in size while cooking). Add the dumplings to the simmering beef casserole 15-20 minutes before serving; submerge them in the sauce and they will swell, thickening the sauce slightly and taking on a rich delicious comforting character.
There are some fabulous time and money saving recipes in the Cooking section of the Vault. Look for these other fabulous recipe titles in the Vault: "Sticky Sausages", "Make Your Own Pizza Bases", "Love Your Lentils and Save", "Cheap Lunchtime Stew" and "Gran's Adult Ice-cream". Yummy!
NOTE: Make sure you check out Destitute Gourmet's website: (www.destitutegourmet.com) for delicious budget recipes. It is simply brilliant.
As you can see from the fantastic letters featured at the start of this month's newsletter, joining our website works. The Savings Vault works and its contents are guaranteed to help you save money. The Vault includes over 6,900 money saving tips on just about anything you can think of and is so fast and easy to use. How much you get out of your membership is up to you - the more you visit the site, the more you will learn and the more you will save. There is so much to be gained by joining our community of savvy savers. If you're not a member yet, but are serious about wanting to know the secrets to saving money, join now and do yourself - and your wallet, a favour!
10 Top Reasons to join the Vault
To become a member go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order
If you are one of the fortunate to receive a tax refund this year, have you considered what you will do with your cheque when it reaches you? Will you fritter yours and get further in debt or turn your luck around and put it to good use?
Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce your overall expenses but the first couple of purchases can be really hard. So don't whinge and moan. Use your tax refund to get you going so you can start getting ahead. Here are some thought provoking ideas from the Vault:
Big W is a great place to buy your washing powder and toilet paper in bulk. For $37.95 I bought 15kg of Cold Power concentrate and six months later I am only halfway through the box. For $7.99 I bought 18 rolls of Quilton toilet paper (this is 3ply). I easily saved $200 this year on washing powder because I bought it in bulk.
As a bachelor I encounter many challenges when shopping. Due to lack of time and for convenience I used to buy meat at supermarkets or from my local butcher. One day I went to a place where prices were dramatically reduced when buying in bulk. Unfortunately, it is costly when living on your own to buy large quantities even though the prices are substantially cheaper, and besides, most bachelors don't have a large freezer to store foodstuffs.
I contacted a few friends in a similar situation and we decided to get together once a month and combine our efforts. We buy bulk quantities of quality tender meat, we share the meat in equal portions and we all save. I noticed that my budget improved dramatically. This can be done for other items also, particularly fish and fruit and vegetables. We go to the Fish and Meat Market in Wises Road in Maroochydore in Queensland and to Cocos Markets, which have great specials when buying in bulk. I am sure you can find similar places anywhere in Australia. So, bachelors, awake and save!
If you have a large freezer, you can make savings by purchasing dried beans by the kilo instead of tinned beans (which taste tinned and are expensive). You can buy them from most fruit stores. Just soak the whole batch for eight hours in the pot before cooking them for 20 minutes, then freeze in ready to use portions. They taste just great, you save heaps of money, and the quality is perfect. If you are going to use kidney beans or other beans that require cooking anyway, don't pre-cook, just soak and freeze. Then defrost and use in food to be cooked (minimum of 20 minutes).
I have found that the cheapest way to buy nappies is to keep an eye out for the specials in Kmart or Target, or to wait until the stores have their sales with up to 15 per cent off everything. Kmart tends to be the cheapest ($7.22 for a pack of VIPs), and is cheaper again on the discounted days. I buy nappies in bulk (twin packets at a time) so that I have a stockpile until they are on special again. I have never paid the normal retail price for nappies.
The cheapest place to buy nappies and other baby products such as Pull-Ups is online at www.thebulkwarehouse.com.au. They stock all major brands at substantially reduced prices and also stock toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. They deliver to most areas in Australia within about three days.
Buy dry and wet cat food and kitty litter in bulk and save! I have a cat with a sensitive stomach who gets sick if he eats the cheap dry cat food. So to buy the more expensive brands (Hills Science, Whiskas Top, etc.) and save money, I buy my dry cat food in 10 kilogram bags from Petbarn in North Parramatta, Sydney. You can also buy a case (usually 24 standard cans) of wet food at a huge discount on supermarket prices. They have a huge range of dog food and pet accessories too.
I also buy 20 kilogram bags of odourless kitty litter for about $10 a bag, the quality of which is the same as the expensive name brands from the supermarkets, but at a fraction of the price.
Ron had been in continual pain for 19 years, undergone nine operations, had months off work and cost the government at least $60,000 trying fix his ostio milistus (bone infection). Nothing worked until he visited our favourite homeopath, Fran Sheffield. Fran fixed Ron in six appointments which cost a total of $410. Imagine how much time and money Ron would have saved had he visited a good homeopath in the beginning.
To read Ron's story go to:- www.homeolink.com.au/osteomyelitis.html
Please remember; 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!
Keep your budget down when travelling with these great cost saving ideas. You can save a bundle when you are planning your next holiday or trip with these tips. Search the Internet for the best deals and learn about great destinations. Go to the link below and view the new tip sheet.
Print out some of our Free Tip Sheets to give to friends, or to keep for handy reference for yourself. You will notice at the bottom of the tip sheet, there 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 the Savings Vault, you will receive a three month credit subscription to the Vault. Print them out to share with your local Playgroup, Business Meeting or just casual coffee with the girls - you will be helping your friends and you might even get a bonus membership!
Go to www.simplesavings.com.au/tipsheets to view this new Tip Sheet and many more!
We hope you have been enjoying the Penny Wise Blog as much as we have! The full blog is now available only to Savings Vault members, but we will continue to include an entry or two in the newsletters:
It's amazing the number of lame excuses one can dream up to justify spending money if one really tries. Take this week for instance. On discovering my brother in law safe and well in London following the horrendous bombings, the huge sense of relief that followed was all it took for me to head to the local café for a celebratory drink and a slice of quiche. I'm sure I would have felt exactly the same if I had stayed at home with a cup-a-soup and a Marmite sandwich, not to mention $12 better off. However, sometimes these spontaneous outings can cost far more - like last weekend's 'act of revenge' shop. Tut, how petty it all seems now...
If there's one thing I detest more than a hangover, it's a husband with a hangover. For me, like most spouses I would imagine, it's like having an extra child in the house. After a particularly juvenile display of 'recycled teenager' behaviour from hubby and his mates the night before, I decided that scare tactics were in order and announced to a grey-faced husband at 8.30am that I was going shopping and leaving him to look after the kids. No way was I going to mollycoddle him this time, or spend the day tiptoeing around the house while he slept the day away! When asked if I had any money, I replied sweetly 'I don't need money - I've got $2,000 on my credit card to spend'! Which is absolutely true, except he didn't realise that I cut my card up months ago!
I grabbed Mum for moral support and hit the shops, which were having some brilliant sales. Four impulse buys and a McDonalds later, I returned home, with the urge to shop having been sated, and me now being the owner of one jumper that I loved, and three more items of clothing I really wasn't that fussed about. I knew as I hung them in the wardrobe that I would never wear them, I had just been egged on (by Mum, she's great like that) that I deserved a little something and after all, they did all have $10 off the price tag, saving me a grand total of $30!
My daft purchases bugged me all week, and so today I set out to redeem my own childish behaviour. Having for once kept my receipts and price tags intact, I returned my three unwanted items, and was instantly rewarded with $100 credit back in my bank account. I felt 10 times better for taking those things back than I ever did buying them! I took Liam to buy a pair of new school shoes, which were already on special at just $19.63 - but couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the sign that said 'buy one pair and get a second free'. Terrific - now I could get a pair for Ali too! There was just one problem, Ali wasn't with me, and the small print said any shoes purchased and found to be the wrong size could not be exchanged. Darn, I hated to miss out on a bargain - but this time, I didn't have to, thanks to a tip I learned from the Vault just a few days ago! I chuckled when I read Beverley Cull's hint about cutting out a template of your children's feet and keeping it in your handbag, but quirky though it sounded, I knew darn well it would come in handy one day, so I made my own templates there and then. I never dreamed I would be needing them so soon! That hint is not the only one to bring a smile to my face lately. I remember reading a recent Hint of the Week, about a lady who had undergone a lengthy search for the perfect frying pan at the right price. At the time, I admit I thought 'why all this fuss about a frying pan?' thinking of my smart non-stick one bought for $11 less than six months ago. Which was perfectly serviceable until two nights ago, when I was merrily flipping pancakes for the boys and the entire handle fell off. What I had thought was a stainless steel tipped handle turned out to be silver plastic! Point taken, I must now embark on my own hunt for the perfect frying pan.
Last month Carol Jones asked:
"My husband has just discovered fishing. This is great because we will spend less money on meat, but he wants to buy every gadget, trinket and lure under the sun. Does anyone have some suggestions how he can catch some tasty fish without spending our entire month's food budget?"
My wife and I like fishing and we have saved many dollars by taking the time to shop around for good second hand fishing gear and watching the "For Sale" ads in newspapers. We have also found high quality rods, reels, lures and other items of fishing gear at low prices at garage sales. Some people get all enthusiastic about fishing and buy a lot of expensive gear, then their enthusiasm wanes or they are relocating so they sell it off. This is often when you get bargains!
Catching or collecting your own bait can be fun. Everyone can fossick on the rocks for periwinkles and cockles (great bait, and pickled they taste pretty good too), or make sandcastles and collect shells on the beach. Lots of healthy exercise!!
For those who have a small dinghy with an outboard already, spotlighting for garfish (if they are available in your area) is quite inexpensive all you need is a spotlight picked up from a discount store and a net. Lots of fun too!
Save time and money on fishing by taking the time to learn how to study tidal effects on fish and what sort of fish run where and when. All you need is a good line and the right bait to match the fish you are after. Make sure you have a current license and are aware of the size and limit of the fish you are catching, you don't want to waste money getting a fine!
Note:Cook a little extra when making some of your other meals and freeze in single serves so if hubby comes home without his triumphant catch you still have a meal without being tempted to dip into the food budget for takeaway!
This month we have a challenge from Leah Johnson-Makin. She wants to know how to live on $50 per week:
"This site is all about being frugal and saving money. Well I'd like you to do a feature on how Centrelink recipients can live on the money they receive.
"My mother receives a Widow Allowance, and the only concession she's entitled to is medical. She doesn't even get a Travel concession. She lives in Housing Dpt accommodation and has her rent deducted automatically each fortnight.
"She leaves $20 in her bank account each fortnight for Christmas, then pays money towards her electricity & phone, and puts away an amount for repaying her Bankcard. She also has to save $50 a fortnight towards registration of her car, and find a bit of money for petrol. The car is needed to take my children to & from school each day. Public transport is way too expensive.
"As a result of this she has the grand total of $100 to live on for a fortnight. This is for everything (e.g. food, clothes, household upkeep), other than the things stated above.
"Now I'd like some clever people to tell me what quality of life she can have on that tiny amount of money."
If you have any experience or hints that would be helpful to Leah, please submit them at: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints
Using 'Dial-A-Box' to move house eight months ago saved us thousands of dollars.
We moved from Canberra to Western Australia and approached several moving companies for quotes. We were quoted between $6,000 and $10,000. One company did a generic computation where two adults, two children and one newborn baby = X amount of stuff. The second company roughly counted the items we wanted to take and came up with a figure.
Neither quote included boxes, packing, packing paper or insurance! These were all extras, up to $10 per box and around $16 to pack each box and so on.
Luckily, we heard about a company called 'Dial-A-Box', which provides shipping containers and organises moving via trains. I found their contact details on the Internet, called them and found out that a shipping container could be delivered to my door on any day I wished, picked up 24 hours later, then delivered to my new house one week later. This would cost just $3,400. We could even organise for the container to stay for an extra 24 hours if we wished for an additional fee - under $100. Needless to say this was my choice!
We begged and borrowed boxes off friends, so we didn't have to pay for boxes. We packed the boxes ourselves, so we didn't pay for that either. The container was huge, came with a big stack of packing blankets and took four bedrooms of furniture, a very large table with eight chairs, large outdoor setting, two large lounges, and many boxes. Insurance was very reasonable - I guess it's hard to steal an entire shipping container off a train!
Dealing with the 'Dial-A-Box' people was amazing, when I was told to expect a phonecall, I got the phonecall. When I was promised a quote, I got the quote. The trucks appeared on time and departed on time. Very impressive (and much appreciated with a three week old baby in the house!) I would recommend them to anyone.