This issue includes:-
How are you going? I hope you have had a great month. We built Simple Savings because I hate seeing people suffering and fighting over money. Our aim is to help as many people as possible to get on top of their finances so they can be happier and more secure.
We judge our results by your emails;
"I just wanted to let you know that your site is amazing. My partner and I have a ten-month old son and have been living with my family since his birth because we hadn't financially prepared ourselves for the loss of my income while I was on maternity leave. For the last ten months I have been searching the Internet for money saving ideas and cheap recipes to prepare us for when we move back out on our own. I put off purchasing a Simple Savings membership, despite its high recommendations, thinking it would just have all the same ideas as all the other sites I visited for free. I gave in a week ago and purchased a subscription and have been pleasantly surprised! I have learnt more from the tips submitted to your Vault then I have learnt from all of those sites put together. It is well worth the money. We are moving out in six weeks to start our life as a family and I feel completely confident that we will be financially stable despite me cutting back to part-time work to be at home with our son. Thank you for everything." (Emma Foster)
"Thank you for your great website. We found $9,000 owing to my husband in unclaimed super funds when we first joined, thanks to your hint!" (Donna Crummer)
"Your last article about Sad Sally and Happy Hanna gave me a new perspective on trying to convince others of the benefits of frugality. I have a co-worker who is worried about money, yet when I try to suggest something to help her, she reacts as though I was advocating sackcloth and ashes! Older house for less rent? "It's probably a dump." Food on sale close to expiry date? "Eww! Old food!" I was getting quite frustrated. Thank you for helping me take this kind of reaction less personally." (name withheld)
"Just wanted to say thank you very much. Since joining this site I have started to change my ways and think outside of that square and it's starting to save me money. Thanks!" (Heather McCosh)
"You have just published my piece about retiring in three years at the age of 60. Well, I have turned my life around, checked my finances and am taking the big plunge. On the weekend, we visited Tasmania and bought our dream home of a 14 square Western red cedar home on 10 acres in a small township 25km from Burnie. The money from the sale of our present home will pay off the rest of the mortgage, fully pay off the Tasmanian property, pay off car loan (two month old car with three year warranty) and money left over. The property has an orchard with fruit-bearing trees, berry plantation and large vegetable garden, plus 0.5km boundary of trout river. We intend to build a chook pen and be able to grow most of our own fruit and veg, with farmers markets nearby for more savings. The rates are half what we pay presently for small suburban block and will only have electric bills. There are five acres of trees on the property so no lack of fuel for the big wood stove, huge rain-water tanks and bore, so no water rates. I will save approximately $2,000 a year on gas bills, no gas! I have worked out that we can live extremely comfortably on $15,000 a year. We are only waiting for settlement day, then no three hour commuting to and from Melbourne every day. I will be able to cook and bake again instead of rush meals and hopefully get slimmer and healthier. HUGE GRINS! We are looking forward to the rest of our life which will be for us, NOT for employers. Grateful thanks for making me think and have the courage to let go. My advice - don't dream it, do it!" (Lesley Barber)
Have a fantastic month!
PS. If you want to buy a membership go to www.simplesavings.com.au/order
It is Friday afternoon before the long weekend and Sally and Hanna are about to leave work. "See you Tuesday!" called Hanna. "Why Tuesday?" answered Sally. "...Oh, I forgot. Long weekend. It's alright for some - are you sure you don't want to come in and work on Monday with me?"
"No, mate. My family needs me." laughed Hanna. Sally looked glum and mumbled, "Yeah well, my mortgage needs me."
Hanna heard her, but for a change, didn't try to say anything to make her friend feel better. She had tried to help Sally in the past but her well meant advice always seemed to fall on deaf ears. Later that night, Hanna poured out her troubles to her husband. "I really worry about Sally", she sighed. "She's in debt up to her eyeballs. But how can I help her if she won't help herself?"
Her husband smiled, "We were there too once, remember? It was the house that did it. I can't believe we ever bought that five bedroom McMansion - not one of my better decisions! I'm so grateful you made me see the sense in selling it, now we are debt free. Have you tried telling her our story?"
"I'll give it a go", Hanna shrugged. "Although, she will probably bite my head off, the mood she's in lately!" "Give it a go anyway", her husband laughed. "I love you." He gave her a kiss.
Back at work on Tuesday morning, Sally and Hanna were catching up in the tea room. "How was your weekend?" asked Sally. "Good! John and I were reminiscing about our dream home." smiled Hanna.
"Reminiscing? Why? I never knew you had a dream home - what happened?" Sally was all ears. "We sold it two years ago", Hanna went on. "It was beautiful - sometimes I still miss it. There was so much room, but the repayments were killing us. What was the point of having such a huge house when we never used half the rooms? The mortgage took my entire wage and the atmosphere around the place was awful - the kids were fighting and the stress was killing our marriage. So we sold up and moved to our cosy two bedroom cottage in a suburb we can afford to live in."
"You sold your dream home to live in a shack?" Sally gasped. "No wonder you kept it a secret. I didn't know you were in financial trouble." "We sure were, but you wouldn't believe how much better our lives became once we dumped that debt! It was hard at first. The kids had to learn to share, but it was the best move we ever made." Hanna enthused, hoping that she was getting through to her friend at last.
Sad Sally stared at Happy Hanna as if Hanna was a complete idiot. "I would never sell my dream home! Really Hanna", she tutted. "What were you and John thinking?"
Who are you most like, Sally or Hanna? Who would you rather be?
Happy Hanna discovered that a smaller house with a smaller mortgage gave her a happier lifestyle, with less debt and stress and more time and money. Like Happy Hanna, I live in a 'two bedroom cottage' and here are some of the ways it saves us money and helps us build a happy family.
If your mortgage is bugging you and you want to reduce (or stay out of) debt, consider moving to a smaller house, a cheaper suburb or see if you can think of a clever way to squish in like Angela Duggan did. Angela and her family came up with some simple but ingenious solutions that saved them thousands. Here is a summarised version of how they achieved it. The full version is in the Vault.
It is possible to comfortably accommodate a family of seven into a small three bedroom home. Building an extension was never an option - here in Tasmania, we were looking at up to $12,000 per square metre!
A larger home (with a larger mortgage) was also out of the question, so some careful planning was needed. We managed the perfect solution for less than $1,000!
Our four daughters (aged from two to 13) occupy two of the bedrooms. Both rooms have two sets of second hand steel bunks. We took out the bottom bunk of each set and made an under bed study area for each of the girls, which we surrounded with homemade curtains. They love this arrangement and they all have the privacy they need.
When my teenage sister came to live with us, our family increased to seven. We utilised the space at the back end of the lounge and turned it into a small bedroom for her, by partitioning off the room with cupboards, all backed with burnie-board to the ceiling, and fitting a sliding door.
We now have a new 'wall' of storage cupboards in our lounge/dining area that looks neat and tidy. The cavity door cost us $180 in kit form and the plaster required was $40. Installation cost us nothing because we have a handy brother in the family. The four cupboards cost $180 each. Based on the prices of houses in our area, we have saved between $40,000 - $100,000 in mortgage debt and in excess of $80,000 in house extension costs, based on builders' quotes.
Our living areas are now a little cosier than before but as everyone has their own little areas to disappear into as the need arises, we manage very well.
At various stages in life, most of us find it necessary to exist on a single income. For students, flatters and those living on their own, it often feels that there is never enough to go round. For new parents accustomed to receiving two wages each month, the transition to a single wage can feel rather daunting. Even retirement can bring concerns - will I have enough? Whatever your situation, think of it as a challenge, not a backwards step! Many families are able to thrive happily on a single income. Some examples of how our members make things work are below, and we have this topic well and truly covered in the Vault. Some great titles to look for are "Barter Your Time and Reap the Benefits", "Shop at Home With Friends" and "Be Diligent and Reach Your Goals"
By thinking ahead during my pregnancy, we were able to make the change easily to a single income household. When I was pregnant with my daughter, we were wondering how we were going to cope on one income. We decided that when the bills came in, we would pay double the amount owed, for the full nine months I was pregnant. By doing this, we had 'prepaid' our phone, electricity and mobile bills, so we didn't have to pay for any of these after our daughter was born for almost the first year. All we had to worry about was our rent and food bills. While we didn't save money, it made the transition from a two income household to a one income household much easier.
As a single parent of two, I found it hard to keep my finances under control until I set it all out on a spreadsheet showing ALL of my weekly expenses, warts and all. That made me cut down on any little expenses that add up so quickly! At any time I can call up the program and see how much money I have saved - the more I save, the less I feel like wasting it! Also, when I had managed to get on top of it all, I paid all the 'bonus' payments from the government into another account. I started this in February and I already have $4,200! Last year I saved enough for a newer car worth $14,000. My friends were so amazed; they wanted to know my secret. And we are still managing our day-to-day expenses on our weekly income.
My partner and I are on a single income with three kids. Of course, he earns all the money! We save together successfully by first of all setting goals that we both want to achieve. We are currently saving a deposit for a house and luckily, he knows that every dollar we spend puts us further away from that dream. By giving him an 'allowance' he's still able to enjoy the things he likes to spend money on. Once or twice I've had to invoke the rule whereby if he wants a large amount of money to spend, he also has to give me the same amount! In effect, his big purchase will cost him twice what he expected. This makes him think again.
2005 has been terrific so far for Simple Savings, and we have so many new and exciting things to share with you before the year is out! 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! If the $47 subscription seems out of reach, try putting away just $2 each day for two weeks and you will have taken your first step to saving by buying a membership. It is that easy!
10 Top Reasons to join the Vault
To become a member go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order
83% of children under 3 will experience middle ear infections*, which can be both painful and expensive. They can quickly turn into a string of doctors' appointments, lost income, antibiotics, paracetamol, aspirin, deafness, speech therapy and surgery. A good homeopath will save you a fortune by treating the problem quickly and stopping it from recurring. This month Fran describes four different types of middle ear infections and how to treat them.
To read the latest go to: homeolink.com.au/midearinfect.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!
*Fact sheet published by Australian hearing
We hope you have been enjoying the Penny Wise Blog as much as we have! It is just getting better and better and we want to give you one last chance to read it for free before it will become an exclusive 'members only' treat. Here are a couple of sneak peeks at what Penny has been up to this month:
My car has been pronounced a write-off, which means I can now go shopping for a new one - rather a drastic way to go about getting a new vehicle, but at least it was my car that ended up a wreck and not me. The electrician finally came with the new timer for my washing machine today, after a whole month of waiting. He installed the new timer, turned it on to test it and the thing blew up. After eleven years of hard labour, my washing machine had croaked. I was left with a new challenge - how to get the best possible washing machine, without paying the worst possible prices! I remembered Fiona's first rule 'shop around - always shop around' and set to work...
The dreaded vet bill arrived today. Actually, it was slightly less than I had anticipated, but it was still (gulp) $438.83. I haven't told hubby, as he emphatically said that he didn't want to see it - even more so because Dudley isn't exactly his favourite dog (his precise words being "if you shoved a broom handle up his backside, you could use him as a mop"). To be fair to poor old Dudley, the vet bill wasn't all his fault - $62 of the meticulously itemised bill went on worm tablets - can you believe it costs that much for three measly worm tablets?
For the hilarious full story, go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/pennywise
Last month Jan Rogan asked:
"I would really like some tips on getting personalised items for children with unusual names - you know, those poor kids who are never able to get mugs, pens and all the things they love with their names on. My children have unusual names and really feel left out when other kids have all sorts of things with their names on them. I would really like to plan ahead for Christmas and get them something special."
...and Gail Emeny asked:
"I wear dentures and am amazed how much it costs to get them repaired. When trying to stick to a budget, the cost of an unexpected repair job can really upset the finances. I have heard that there are DIY dental repair kits available to order from overseas - does anyone have any information on whether this (or any other way to save money on dentures) is available in Australia?"
Once again, you have been wonderful with your responses and we are constantly amazed at the information we receive. Here are just a few of the great ideas and tips you sent in! The rest are stored in the Vault; some of the great titles to look for are: - "Cool Personalised Kids Stuff" and "Popular Personalised Gift Ideas".
I love making really special personalised gifts for just a couple of dollars, using my computer. I make poems or write personalised memories on a beautiful backdrop, then print and frame them. I just use a Word or Publisher program and make a beautiful personalised piece of art, which looks terrific when teamed up with a cheap frame from a $2.00 shop. A beautiful personalised present for a fraction of the cost.
I recently purchased a program on eBay (www.ebay.com.au), which can be used to create your own personalised transfers to use on clothing, mugs and so on using Inkjet transfer paper. It cost me $8.00 plus $6.99 postage. The seller is dr.goldfish (make sure you don't leave out the dot after dr, as you will end up with a different seller.) Search by seller or this title: Make Big Posters Murals Quilts T-Shirts Crafts or Art. Bear in mind this product has to be shipped from the USA.
I recently made personalised money tins for my nephews, for a really economical and unique gift. I bought the sealed 'cash note' style money tins from The Warehouse for just a couple of dollars, and a bag of foam shape and number cut-outs, also for just a couple of dollars. Using some spray paint I had at home, I spray painted the tins and then glued the foam letters on to make the children's names, and a few shapes for decoration. You could personalise several different items in this way. They look great!
My parents found some cheap and effective ways to personalise my things when I was younger. Try some of these:
* Do it yourself! Hand paint bedroom door plaques, use fabric paint for clothes and other items.
* Buy things with the first initial of your child's name, rather than the whole name.
* Use letter stickers or beads to spell out your child's name.
* You can also get pens and other items engraved with particular names - usually places that cut keys will do this relatively inexpensively.
The best places for personalised items are craft fairs. A lot of the stall holders make everything from scratch with the ideas the customer gives. We have bought our kids plates, cups and so on with their names on them (some even with photos). Door hangers are available and with the identity direct mail company, you are able to order many items printed with your child's name, such as stickers, books, pencils, name tags and a whole heap more for a very reasonable cost.
Here is a way to repair your dentures with very little expense. Put the pieces together and coat the denture with a film of petroleum jelly. Take apart and glue together with super glue, being careful to hold in place until dry - not very long. When dry, simply wash your dentures in kitchen detergent and warm water, clean with denture cream, so they taste okay, and they are as good as new!
A friend of mine needed a new set of dentures and went to the Dental College, where she paid just a quarter of her usual price! These are students in their last years of university and the pricing is amazingly cheap compared with seeing an already qualified dentist. All visits are under strict supervision, the appointments may take a little longer but it is well worth it!
Here are some websites who sell denture repair kits and dental emergency packs.
This 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?
If you can help Carol with some fishy savings, please visit www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints
We have learned how to save almost $10,000 a year on our living costs! Since having a baby, our savings were dwindling and I had to do something about it.
I decided to draw up a budget. The first thing we did was to open three bank accounts: a savings, bills and a pay account. I used a free Budget Manager to help so that I could see the 'big picture' of where our money was going. To make it easier, I over-budgeted our expenses.
Each pay day, I divide the money up and put it into labelled jars. If we don't use all of the allotted money, I take it back and put it into the savings jar. I also used the budget planner to calculate all our bills, including rates and mortgages, electricity, gas, registrations, insurances, so that we put money away each fortnight.
Simple Savings provides very innovative ways to save on these expenses. I looked around and found a butcher's shop that was cheap with staple foods where I now buy meat, eggs and bread and have found a cheap fruit and vegetable shop.
Since doing this, we feel like we have more money, more fresh food and we are not broke a week later - plus we've been saving $372 EVERY fortnight, which equates to $9,672 a year!
Elizabeth's story is printed here in its shortened version. The full story, which features further helpful information, is available from in the Savings Stories section of the Vault.
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.