The Vault Challenge

Posted April 8th, 2008 by Penny Wise

OK everyone, to the tune of '21 bottles of beer' if you please!

'21 bags on the washing line

Flapping away in the breeze,

I've saved them from landfill, hooray for me

And that's only a week's worth - Jeez!'

Seriously - our family has kept 21 plastic bags out of the rubbish in just one week by washing and recycling them. Plus we also had to throw a few out that were beyond repair so supposing we can manage to recycle 21 bags in an average week - that's 1092 bags that WON'T end up in landfill over the course of a year, just in a single household! Although I have to admit I am racking my brains as to where the heck I'm supposed to store 1000-odd bags. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it - it could be a bit of a challenge!

Talking of challenges (oh very smoothly done Penny) I have to admit, I did end up going ever so slightly over my $21 Challenge limit. However, I refuse to beat myself up about that - it's the first time ever that I have gone over budget during a Challenge week and I still ended up with the huge majority of the usual grocery budget left to transfer into savings. We enjoyed some great meals too! Which reminds me, I still haven't got round to trying that lamb recipe but I will do so this week. So seeing as I'm still in frugal overdrive mode, I reckon it's time for a whole new challenge and everyone is of course welcome to join me. I call it The Vault Challenge!

Be honest, when was the last time you looked in the Vault – properly? I'm ashamed to admit that I've been neglecting this wonderful resource lately and I was blown away when I clicked on 'Recent Hints' and saw so many brilliant tips there. It's not that I've been slack about living the SS way - far from it; it's just I've got used to incorporating so many of the existing tips into every day life, I've forgotten about trying some new ones. I know it's not just me either - another member, Pip, decided she also wanted to get around to trying some new tips and started a great thread called 'Challenge - one new tip a week' right at the same time. Great minds think alike! The only difference is that I aim to try out not just one tip a week but as many as I can as there are so many brilliant ones at the moment, I don't want to forget them again! Some of the current ones which I really like the sound of are:

'Enjoy a big breakfast and save!' - I am really curious to try this out and see if it works. Breakfast in our house is a real 'get-it-over-with' meal so it would be nice to see if we could make it more enjoyable. As long as I don't have to get up earlier!

'10% less rule saves money and planet'. Could I truly be that disciplined? It's a great idea!

'Watties microwaved mashed potatoes - the SS way!' I have never bought ready made mashed potato in my life but I really like this idea for a quick filler for kids so am planning to try it out.

'Visualise your goal and stay on track'. Our family has a brand new goal to save for so we are definitely going to do this! If we can save enough over the next few months, we are going to go to Australia in the July school holidays. This tip will really help keep the whole family on track.

'Work out the real cost of whistles and bells'. This is a clever one and has already saved me a few dollars here and there since I read it.

'Luxurious natural facial scrub'. I just HAVE to try this, it sounds divine!

'Scrapbook-style canvas saves fortune on albums'. This is a lovely gift idea which I reckon even I can make!

'Grandma's Day saves $30 a week on groceries'. What a brilliant idea! Even though we make just about everything from scratch, it would be really fun to do this next time the kids are I are in Mr Patels. I wonder when potato chips were invented?

Jings, there are just too many great ones to mention them all here - and that's just in the last week or so! I dread to think how many other fantastic ideas I've missed lately. Then of course there are the recent Hints of the Week like 'Mealopedia' and 'Love Food Hate Waste'. Honestly, if it wasn't for Simple Savings I would never hear of any of these! So today I'm going to start off by making our visible goal chart for our trip to Queensland. The kids can cut out pictures of the things they want to do and see and Noel still has fond memories of the Ettamogah pub, I wonder if I can find a picture of that?! Talking of booze, almost had a drunken disaster on my hands yesterday! Noel bought me a nice bottle of wine as a treat and I had some leftover but I didn't want to leave it around the house as it would be too tempting for this new tee-totaller! So in saintly SS style I poured the leftover wine into ice cube trays and popped it in the freezer so I could use it for cooking when the need arose. Unfortunately Ali has a similar habit of squeezing fresh lemons and freezing the juice in ice cube trays to enjoy in a nice, cold glass of water. I was pottering around yesterday afternoon and heard a voice shout from the kitchen, 'oh great Mum, thanks!' I thought he was thanking me for the new tub of ice cream in the freezer but a few seconds later I heard the 'plink-plink' of ice cubes hitting glass. 'Look Liam - I've got HEAPS of lemon ice cubes!' he announced, most impressed. I dashed out into the kitchen to find him happily sipping away on a tumbler of water, full to the brim with frozen wine cubes! Of course it didn't take long for him to realise that it definitely was not lemon juice it was drinking and before I could do anything he spat everything back into his glass, before rushing to the sink and pouring the whole lot away. So much for saving my leftovers!

At least I do get to enjoy a few more leftovers of a different kind for lunch - although I prefer to call them 'tiffin' a la Sophie Gray lately. It sounds so much nicer - I always really look forward to having my tiffin for lunch and it's made me a lot more conscientious about using up leftovers wisely. One thing we won't have to buy for a while at least is eggs. The chooks have all gone off the lay apart from the odd egg here and there and I was finding it rather painful having to buy eggs. However, Ali's young pet hen Speckles came to the rescue. She kept getting out and would ask to be let back in at feeding time but unknown to us, she had spent many a day happily camouflaged in the ferns and bracken before we finally found her hiding place, proudly sitting atop 15 tiny bantam eggs! Unfortunately they are so small you almost have to use twice as many as normal but nonetheless we are all very grateful to her for her contribution.

Before I go, I must share with you one rather humorous example of recycling. The boys absolutely love WWE wrestling and spend hours on their trampoline, practising their 'finishing moves' over and over again. Great exercise for them I must say! However, the one rule is that they are not allowed to wrestle each other as it's too dangerous. For a while they were content to wrestle Ali's giant stuffed penguin but a few days ago Ali was consumed with remorse for the poor penguin's ill treatment and decided it was to return back to his bed to be cuddled at night with the other stuffed animals instead. 'Oh - well that's great - what are we supposed to wrestle with now?' moaned Liam. They tried using pillows but it wasn't the same at all - then I hit upon an idea. Remembering the hilarious Guy Fawkes days of my youth, we always went to great lengths to build a wonderful 'Guy'. In fact, it was a real combined effort as we always used to celebrate with two other families and every year we would take it in turns - one family would make the head, another the body and the third would make the legs. Then on November 5th we would all come together to attach the three parts of the guy and it was always absolutely hilarious to see what everyone else had created. That was what the boys needed - a wrestling 'guy'! The boys looked on bemused as Noel helped me find an old pair of trousers and a shirt, then we set about stuffing them with everything we could find. Old, ripped sheets, clothes which were beyond even giving to the op shop - you name it. We sewed the legs and body together with baling twine. Then for the head, I stuffed a white plastic shopping bag full to bursting with other plastic shopping bags from our vast saved collection, attached it to the body and drew on a face. By the time we had finished, the 'guy' was bigger than Ali! The kids were over the moon and took it straight outside where they have played for hours ever since, throwing this thing around and launching themselves at it. We certainly never realised years ago that our Bonfire Night guy-making tradition was actually a brilliant exercise in recycling!

Want to comment? Become a Simple Savings member »

January 2015

December 2014

March 2014

December 2011