"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - May 2005
This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally and Happy Hanna: Enjoying the Simple Pleasures
- Three Months Free Membership to the Vault
- How to become a Vault member
- Meet our newest Simple Saver - Penny Wise!
- $290 Ended Bloated Belly and Food Cravings forever!
- It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas
- Saving Incentives for Kids
- From Last Month: Affordable Renting
- This Month's Help Requests: Unusual Names and Cheap Dentures
- SAVING Stories: A Simple Journey to a Better Life
How are you doing? It has been a great month. The Vault now has 6,690 hints in it. That is 2,194 carefully edited A4 pages of hints. It is huge. And, can you believe we only charge $47 a year to read them? Many people have told me we should charge more for the Savings Vault, and one very happy Vault member actually wrote in after using the Vault and said we should charge $400 per year because that is how much she saved in the first month. Wow!
Each newsletter I want to tell you about the cool new product we have been working on, but the lawyers still say 'No'. Keeping it a secret is so hard. I want to show the new product to you, get your feedback and see if it protects your money as well as I think it will.
Your letters are brilliant. Thank you so much:
"We are back after our big holiday, and send a big thanks for all the simple savings tips. It was a perfect holiday for us - because of all those savings, our dream was realised, and you were a big part of it. We are now starting to save again for another one, and with you and your reader's help I know our next trip will be soon. Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!" (Mell & Roger Aganon)
"Thanks to your website I have turned my savings around. Working with the Vault has shown me better ways to budget for household bills. I am 57 and this is the first year I have saved instead of using my credit card for holidays, Christmas or clothes! I am now looking at retiring at 60, and will have paid the mortgage off, money saved in the bank, and money to buy our dream house in cash. Tasmania here we come! My husband sends his thanks as he is looking forward to more fly fishing, and I am looking forward to growing vegies and fruit as my parents did in England. What took me so long to see this common sense? You are worth your weight in gold!!! Thanks for my good life." (Lesley Barber)
"I want to commend you and the team on a great website. Being a single Mum with lots of bills I know how hard it is to save money and keep a budget! Keep up the good work." (Kylie Cook)
"I had a look at your pics page and your kids are just beautiful. In your wedding pic you and your husband look like the happiest couple in the world, and with good reason! Thanks for everything Fiona, the website and emails have been an absolute godsend!" (Marie White)
"Thanks for a great website. Just wanted to comment on your Homeopathy story in the last newsletter. Our six year old has always been fit and healthy - until we moved to Sydney! We took him to see a qualified homeopath and it was absolutely brilliant. It has been a godsend to our whole family and Dominic hasn't needed antibiotics since he saw her. His whole system has been strengthened by it. Big grins from me too!" (Sandy Gunder)
"I do volunteer work with St Vincent de Paul, visiting people who find themselves in a position of financial crisis. We have a number of resources to assist them. I also give them the address for your website. This is a great resource for families, and individuals, who can easily access the internet at their library. And for people who suffer from loneliness and boredom, browsing your website is a great way to pass the time!" (Narelle Jarvis)
Have a fantastic month!
1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Enjoying the Simple Pleasures
It's Monday morning again and Happy Hanna breezes in to the office, looking happy and refreshed after a weekend away with her family.
"I don't know how you do it", remarks Sad Sally. "You lot always seem to be heading off somewhere - how on earth do you afford it?" "Come on Sally", laughs Hanna, "You know we don't go away anywhere flash; most of our holidays are spent camping!"
"Eww! Camping. I couldn't stand roughing it. The last time I went on holidays it was to the Caribbean for our honeymoon in '95. It was fantastic. The food was served to us on silver platters. The meals were divine."
Happy Hanna smiled, "Wow! Silver platters. That sounds pretty fancy."
Sad Sally continued, "Could you imagine our family stuck in a tent? We'd be at each others' throats! No television, no Playstation, what would they do?"
Happy Hanna laughed, "You would be fine! I bet your husband would love to get away from it all - it's the perfect chance to spend quality time together and get to know each other again. Why don't you give it a go? You can borrow our camping gear if you like!"
"Hmph - thanks but no thanks Hanna", grunted Sally. She thought to herself, "Yes! I would love a weekend away" then "Hmph.. I need to work Saturday to pay the phone bill." Instead of telling the truth she tried to make herself feel better by looking down her nose and saying, "We don't like that kind of thing."
Happy Hanna smiled patiently. She knew Sally didn't really mean it and thought "Poor Sally. She is probably having money problems again. I remember that stress and I'm never going back there again."
Who are you most like, Sally or Hanna? Who would you rather be?
2. Three Months Free Membership to the Vault
People who spend more money than they earn are trapped. The result is usually massive debt and disintegrating relationships. It doesn't have to be that way. If your friends are stuck or you think they may find our site interesting please refer them to Simple Savings. We can show them how to lower their expenses and remove some of the stress from their lives. If your friends choose to join the Vault we will give you three months free membership for your help. If you are already a Vault member the three months will be added to your existing membership.
Bringing up the topic of money with friends can be awkward. It can be delicate subject. So we made a form to help send a very friendly, non-confronting email introducing Simple Savings as a site which "helps people find more time and more money so they can make their dreams come true". To use the form go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/threemonthsfree
3. How to become a Vault member
There are three ways you can become a Vault member. You can pay to become a member which will mean you get full access right away. Or you can try to earn a membership by sending in unique hints or telling lots of your friends about the Vault.
If you want to get your membership right away and find out how to have more spare cash immediately, buy yourself one years membership for $47 by going to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order
If you are trying to win a Savings Vault membership, your winning savings hint doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to be a simple unique way you discovered to save yourself money. The more detail the better. To enter the hint competition go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints
Telling your friends about Simple Savings has become the most common way people get free memberships. We have given away stacks of memberships since we started the program. So if you want to help your friends, go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/threemonthsfree
4. Meet Our Newest Simple Saver - Penny Wise!
We are pleased to announce our latest addition to the website - our very own Simple Savings 'blog'! For those of you not familiar with the term, a 'blog' or 'web log' is an online diary.
Our resident 'blogger' Penny Wise is just like you! She is a 'sometimes' Sad Sally who is desperately trying to become a Happy Hanna. Each week, Penny will share her personal thoughts, triumphs and tribulations of how she is turning her spending into savings. Penny's journal is available to read on Simple Savings and is updated weekly, do take the time to visit and see what she's up to!
Penny's blog is hilarious. It cracks me up everytime I read it. Penny's blog is going to start in the free area of the site but will be moved into the Vault in mid-June.
Monday May 2nd
Don't you love Mondays? I love starting each new week with a clean slate. I guess hubby does too, as he attempts to quit smoking pretty much every Monday without fail! As for me, I'm now into my third smoke free year! According to my calculations, I have now NOT smoked my way through a grand total of $8,932 worth of cigarettes! I guess I should be really proud of myself, except heaven only knows what else I have ended up spending those thousands of dollars on, because it sure didn't end up in my bank account.
But never mind! A new week, and a new me - a super savvy, smart shopping one. I've done the hard yakka quitting smoking, I've done the diet and exercise thing, I just have one vice to purge from my system - my uncontrollable spending. No more retail therapy or cafe lunches for this chick! I just can't wait to see how much money I DON'T spend from now on.
Well, the day started out perfectly. Dropped the kids off at school, went for a run - very virtuous. Took car in for a service - tried to put it off but it was due over 4,000km ago. Have made pact with mother not to meet at the local cafe every lunchtime so had can of soup for lunch instead and felt very saintly. All was going so smoothly until I hopped in my courtesy car to pick the boys up later and noticed Dudley the dog limping badly. Packed kids and dog up and went to pick up my own car. Which needs new tyres. Four of them. $95 each - and yes, I did shop around for the best price. Hubby did not believe me that I needed to replace all of them, until I showed him the canvas coming through on the one he'd said was perfectly fine...
Wednesday May 4th
Very pleased with self. Passed local vege shop on the way to rugby practice and spotted 10kg of potatoes on sale for $3.99 - saving me between $3.00 and $8.00 on usual prices in our area at the moment! They're good ones too - don't you hate it when you buy one of those big brown bags only to find the potatoes inside are more like peas? Stopped at corner shop for hubby's beer and really surpassed my usual shopping skills. I found it was $3.50 cheaper to buy two six-packs of stubbies than a 12 pack of the same brand! Mind you, I spent so long scrutinizing the different varieties to see which was cheapest I think Mrs Chegwidden thought I must have a bit of a problem in the booze department. Seeing as I was on a roll, I whipped up a batch of muffins to make economical use of the oven while I was cooking tea. I'm not a bad cook, but I'm a terrible baker. I can only successfully bake one variety of muffins - chocolate and banana. Luckily the kids only like that variety anyway. Blasted smoke alarm went off again tonight while cooking dinner. It's done it every night this week, which really upsets me because I'm really not burning anything, but it makes the rest of the family think I am. At least it's quieter since I hit it, though I think it may mean I have to replace it now. Fed dogs, only to find hubby had arrived home first and fed them already (which he never does). Not very economical, especially when there's three of them...
To read more: www.simplesavings.com.au/pennywise
5. $290 Ended Bloated Belly and Food Cravings forever!
We have received some fantastic feedback following last month's featured Homeopathy article. For those of you who have already discovered the amazing benefits of Homeopathic treatments, it has been great to hear your stories! Many of you are keen to learn more about how this kind of treatment can improve your family's health, and your budget.
This month's story is an interesting one. Often people mistake a bloated belly with being overweight. Our family homeopath, Fran Sheffield, says that it is a common problem and linked to poor digestion. This month Fran tells about Sandra, a middle aged woman who always seemed to put on weight, no matter how little food she ate. She experienced a bloated abdomen, poor memory, sluggishness, terrible food cravings and had been placed on all kinds of expensive medicines which would have been a huge money drain for the forseeable future but didn't actually solve the problems. Fran fixed it in four appointments for a total of $290.
To read this story, go to: homeolink.com.au/bloatedbelly.html
6. It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas!
We may still only be half way through the year, but now is the time to start planning for Christmas - yes, really! Being organised months ahead can save you so much money and have your bank balance looking healthy for once when December comes! There is a huge range of money saving hints for Christmas in the Vault; here is a selection to get you in the mood for festive saving!
Top 10 Early Christmas tips:
Tip 1. Start putting money aside for Christmas. If you haven't already started doing this, there are several simple measures you can take that will make a big difference to your festive bank balance. Set up an automatic payment, to be deducted from your weekly wages to go into a Christmas savings club with your bank. No matter how small the amount, it will add up nicely by the time Christmas comes. Otherwise, save all your loose change in a tin and don't touch it until December! If rent bills are usually hanging over your head along with all your other Christmas expenses, try using the same initiative as Gail Kilgour. Throughout the year Gail pays an extra $5.00 on her rent every week. While she doesn't notice the extra $5.00 going out, they add up through the months so that when Christmas week arrives, she is in credit and does not have to worry about paying rent over the Christmas season!
Tip 2. Buy vouchers to store throughout the year. Every time you go shopping include a voucher for $10 or $20 in your purchase. These can be supermarket vouchers, department store vouchers, etc. You may not notice the extra purchase when you shop, but when December approaches, you can either use the vouchers to stock up for Christmas food and goodies, or give them as gifts. Woolworths, in particular, have vouchers which can be redeemed at a wide variety of outlets.
Tip 3. Make use of that tax refund! Most of us receive our tax cheques during the quieter months. Instead of frittering it away, use it to do your Christmas shopping early, then forget about it and relax when December arrives!
Tip 4. Pay off lay-bys well before Christmas. Stores which have lay-by facilities are great for shopping in advance, particularly gift shopping for friends and family. Keep an eye out for specials and always check if sale items can be put on lay-by. When you lay-by, include extras such as wrapping paper, stocking fillers, cards, labels, and sticky tape. Regular account payments mean your lay-by can be paid in full well before Christmas.
Tip 5. Browse gift ideas from eBay. There are literally thousands of new gifts available at bargain prices or well below store costs on eBay. This is another fabulous way to buy a gift each week to put aside for Christmas, and it is a great place to find rare items. Take your postage costs into account when bidding.
Tip 6. Raise your own money for Christmas. Use online trading sites (such as eBay or Trade Me) or Garage Sales to raise money for Christmas spending. Check the wardrobes, cupboards, garage, tool sheds etc. for any items that are no longer in use. Remember, one person's trash is another person's treasure!
Tip 7. Include non-perishable items in your regular shop. Keep an eye out for bargains in the supermarket. When non perishable items such as napkins, paper plates, and disposable cutlery are on special, pick up a couple of packets and put them away in a safe place. You can buy food items like tinned goods, soft drinks, cordial, jelly, and custards well in advance, and you will hardly notice the extra purchases in your shopping.
Tip 8. Plant fresh produce for Christmas. Avoid the inflated prices of fresh produce over Christmas by growing your own. If you don't have a garden, potted vegetable plants like tomatoes, lettuce, silverbeet or any others in season will do. Plant them early, look after them well, and enjoy delicious fresh vegetables and herbs over the Christmas holidays.
Tip 9. Organise Gifts for Overseas. Posting gifts overseas is always expensive. Avoid international postage by buying the items online from stores in the same country or same postal regions as your friends.
Tip 10. Stock up on Petrol Vouchers. Purchase $10 or $20 petrol vouchers each week when you fill up the car, as they are an ideal way to save dollars over Christmas for outings to family and friends, picnics, beaches, and theme parks.
Thanks to the many members who helped to compile our Top Ten Tips!
7. Savings Incentives for Kids
If teaching your children to save money is high on your list of priorities, we have some fantastic and inspirational ideas in the Vault! It's so hard for parents to encourage their children and grandchildren to save money, when for most youngsters their weekly pocket money burns a hole in their pocket as soon as they get it. It's hardly surprising, considering the amount of advertising the poor things are bombarded with, for all the 'cool' things they are talked into believing they need. It is difficult to hide from the ads, and your kids are going to be subjected to them for the rest of their lives. But you can help them to become Savvy Savers if you start straight away. Here are a few ideas from the Savings Vault:
How to save and get the kids to clean the house!
My kids, aged 6 and 11, were always asking for things at the shops, or for takeaways, computer games and so on. They were both leaving things lying around and their rooms were in a mess. I decided to solve both problems with one answer - the PAYDAY scheme. Using my computer I made up a list of jobs both kids could do and decided after consultation with the kids, how much each job was worth. Making their own bed for example is worth 10 cents per day, washing up is 20 cents, and keeping a tidy bedroom for the week is worth a whole dollar! I also made up a sheet of 'personal cheques' a savings account sheet, a cheque account sheet, and a cardboard 'credit card'. At the end of each day the kids make a list of their jobs and payment due, and at the end of the week we have payday.
10% of the money earned goes to their savings account and 10% goes in 'tax'. The balance goes into the cheque account which can be accessed by writing me a cheque which is exchanged for cash. If they run out of money or need extra for purchases, they need to use the credit card which has a limit of $10. Using the card costs 20% interest per week - so they have not tried to use it yet; instead they save up for the things they want. At the end of the month if they have been really good at home and at school, they get a 'tax refund' of the tax they have paid - if they have been bad, I get to keep the tax money! They are not allowed to spend money from the savings accounts and both have over $20 saved already. It's great, no more added expenses for me every time I go near a shop, and I have a lovely clean house with well behaved kids. The whole system took about an hour to print and organise, takes 10 minutes per week to manage and cost me absolutely nothing to set up.
We have added everything you need for Janine Gaye's PAYDAY scheme to the Vault. Groovy cheques, funky savings sheets, snazzy credit cards, and even a fancy job list. Print them out, stick them up on the fridge, bedroom wall or pinboard, so they can watch their money grow! There are designs for boys and girls of all ages, and we can testify here at Simple Savings that they really do work. Now is a perfect time to get them going - they can either start saving to buy Christmas pressies, or a treat for themselves - or to just keep saving!
Click here to go directly to Janine's hint in the Vault and all its goodies. If you are already a Vault member this link will take to the login page and then Janine's hint. If you aren't a member you will need to buy a membership first from: www.simplesavings.com.au/order
Forming Money Saving Habits for Life
This idea is an investment in the future of my grandchildren's saving habits. As soon as they are old enough to receive regular pocket money, I promise them that when they have saved a certain amount, and banked it, I will give them an equal amount! (I am a pensioner, but have learned how to save!).
My fifth grandchild, aged nine, is now close to her first $100! The other four have all saved enough for extended overseas trips while at school - and three have been! (One is back home and is now saving for a first house deposit!) Nothing has given me greater pleasure than seeing these young folk take charge of their finances at an early age. They will be set for life.
Reaping the benefits
Our nine year old daughter is in charge of a small but productive vegetable garden. She is responsible for planting and watering the vegetables and also for 'selling' them to our family. We pay her for any vegetables we need. She also sells the excess to family and friends. We get great fresh produce at about half the supermarket prices and she gets to learn how to run a small business and learn the important lesson of managing and earning her own money.
8. From last month: Affordable Renting
Last 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?"
Thank you to all your helpful and resourceful responses. Here are some of your replies:
Work for your rent
If you have the time and patience, becoming a residential supervisor at a boarding school is a great way to save on rent. A school I worked at provided either shared or single accommodation, plus all your meals in return for as little as ten hours 'work' per week, plus working one weekend a month. The work might involve supervising study times, driving students to appointments, sports or whatever, but is rarely demanding.
Not only do you save the entire amount you might have spent on rent but also money that you would have spent on groceries. Usually the accommodation might have a small kitchen as well if you want to cook something yourself. These jobs are not always advertised, so it's best to call up the Head of Boarding at different schools or send in a resume and ask. Be sure to check out the accommodation you will be living in before you agree!
Look for a private landlord
Through personal experience I find renting privately through the landlord is a better option than through a real estate agent. When I rented through a real estate company, they put the rent up every six months, and a few times I had to move because they had sold the property. Now I am in a private house and hardly ever see the landlady because the rent comes out of my pay every week. If anything goes wrong I ring up and it is fixed very quickly. I have been here over five years now and there is never any talk of selling. My rent has gone from $130 to $150 in five years, so I am very happy with that. My landlady was glad to have a long term commitment, because her previous tenants all kept taking off with rent owing after a couple of months!
Share a home while saving for your deposit
Becoming an Au Pair is an effective way to reduce rent; we had one several years ago. In exchange for room, board, and a $50 a week allowance, our Au Pair gave us 15 hours a week housework, two week nights babysitting, and one weekend night of babysitting. It worked really well, and I have often thought that if our current home wasn't so small I should like to do this again, perhaps even with a male in exchange for garden work. Older people living alone in large homes may need the heavy jobs and garden work taken care of for them in exchange for accommodation. While it DOES mean sharing a home, it will free up your income to be saved for a deposit on your own home. While this may not be 'long term' it certainly could allow you to save a deposit for a long term solution of your own.
Boarding is cheaper than renting
Speaking from experience, opting to be a boarder is a far cheaper alternative than renting. Look through your local newspaper for share accommodation or ads for boarders wanted. Quite often these are owner occupiers with spare rooms to let. They are there for the long term and it is so much cheaper than renting. In no time you'll have a deposit for a house of your own. I did this, and at 27 years old I am married with two children and the proud owner of two houses.
If you want to read more inspiring suggestions go to the Savings Vault under Real Estate -> Renting.
9. Help Requests: Unusual Names and Cheap Dentures
This 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."
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?"
If you can help Jan or Gail go to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints
10. Savings Stories: A Simple Journey to a Better Life
We have another fabulous Saving Story this month. To read more stories like these, go to the Savings -> Stories section of the vault.
A Simple Journey to a Better Life
I live with my husband and four year old twin boys in a unit, and we discovered Simple Savings at a time that was very difficult in the life of our family. I wanted to share a bit of our journey that led to saving money and an improvement to our quality of life. When I discovered Simple Savings, my husband was a self employed contractor who was between jobs, and our income became more limited as I worked part time. We have many fixed expenses, including a large mortgage, and preschool fees.
We were feeling very stressed emotionally as well, and finding daily living difficult to manage. I pored over the Savings Vault and found a wealth of information to assist us in reducing our expenses. As we were feeling quite vulnerable and finding change a struggle, we picked one tip a week to research or implement, starting with the simplest first, so we could experience enough success to motivate us to continue.
The first week, my husband put his razor in a small glass of olive oil (to prevent rust and make the blade last longer). The next, we replaced our fabric softener with 1/4 cup of vinegar and put vinegar in a pump spray pack to clean our benches. We also started using vinegar to clean our floors. As we "succeeded" we began to feel better about life, as we were exercising control over our situation, and it felt creative.
As time went on, we also:
- Researched iselect for the best health insurance.
- Researched car/house/contents insurance for the best deal.
- Started to shop at Aldi regularly, using tips from other Simple Savings users which were the best value products.
- We found a wholesale butcher (Elvy's Wholesale Meats, 2/19 Norman St, Peakhurst NSW. ph: 02 9153 6656)
- We started cleaning our dishwasher with citric acid.
- We gave homemade gingerbread houses and biscuits as Christmas gifts.
- Our children made gift wrap (painted and glittered) from a roll of butchers paper, bought for $10 at IKEA, which is very personal and inexpensive.
- We joined three different DVD clubs and got a free month from each before canceling, which gave us great free entertainment over the Christmas months.
- We found websites for children's activities, and a recipe for homemade Playdoh, that we love and have given to other children as gifts.
- We bought $8.00 worth of alphabet and flower beads and bracelet elastic from The Reject Shop and made 13 name bracelets for preschool teachers and friends. My boys really knew the joy of giving something which they had helped choose and make. The recipients were delighted by the personal nature of the gift.
- I now make my own bath products for our family and for gifts, using the recipes and websites recommended by Simple Savings subscribers.
We are adding to our life routine regularly, and we are loving our life. This week I have taken my first week of unpaid leave from work to be with my cherubs during the school holidays, and it is such a priceless and precious gift. I really appreciate the invaluable life tools that I have gained from your website, and value sharing this way of life with my children. I encourage the financially overwhelmed to add one tip a week to your life - they all add up to big change!
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.