Shopping vices

Posted August 30th, 2005 by Penny Wise

Feeling very smug. Am currently celebrating two and a half weeks of no caf lunches! This may not sound a big deal to most people, but to me it's a great milestone. In case you hadn't realized by now, the local caf is one of my major hangouts. I dread to think how much money I have poured into that place - at my worst it was around $150 per month. The silliest part is; I work from home, so getting to my beloved caf means I actually have to go out in my car and buy my lunch, when I could be warming up a can of soup or grabbing a sandwich at home! That was the old me anyway - the new me has turned into a home loving soup slurper, which is much better for me anyway and I can keep eating my lunch while I'm working (though that's not a terribly good idea, you should see the state of my keyboard). Most of my friends have vices - my mother has more pairs of shoes than Imelda Marcos and my friend Maxine has the most amazing collection of cardigans from all over the globe. I successfully banished my other two money spending vices last year, which was buying CD's and make-up. I have so much make-up that I will never have to buy any again. The daft thing is I had no need to acquire such a huge swag of it in the first place, as I never wear it. In fact, I'm so renowned for NOT wearing make-up that on the few occasions I do bother to put it on, everyone thinks I must be going to a funeral. Am hugely confident that I will now be able to add caf dining to my list of successfully beaten vices.

Indeed, I am such a reformed character that even my Mum is quite amazed at my restraint. She even went as far as to tell me I'm no fun to go shopping with anymore after a brief spree a few days ago. Previously, she would have been near to collapsing from exhaustion after one of our retail therapy sessions, but not this time. I calmly browsed around each store we visited before leaving empty handed, because I knew perfectly well I didn't need anything. Unfortunately Mum didn't share my excitement when I saved $1.10 on feta cheese by buying a different brand, or my eagerness to visit the Salvation Army shop, but she was very proud to inform me later of a great DIY tip she had discovered while watching the Lifestyle channel. Apparently, a cheap and effective way to remove wallpaper effortlessly is to buy a cheap bottle of fabric softener and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on to the walls and leave for twenty minutes or so, and you should then be able to remove it as easy as anything. Even though friends and family might enjoy ribbing me about my reformed skinflint ways, I do believe I'm actually starting to make them think. Mum asked for one of my Destitute Gourmet recipes the other day when she walked into my aroma filled kitchen and Maxine couldn't help chuckling when she informed me that she had pinched one of my favourite mantras to use on a mutual friend during a shopping trip 'A bargain is only a bargain if you were already planning to buy it!'

Other savings for me this week? My Norton Antivirus expired and I saved $84 on renewing it by downloading the free AVG antivirus software instead. This has been recommended to me by so many people, including two computer technician friends and is also mentioned in the Simple Savings Vault. Just go to and click on AVG Free. There are paid versions of this software, but I have found the free one is great. As soon as I installed it, my new AVG picked up two viruses that my Norton system had failed to spot! I heard on the radio an interesting article this week that apparently if you drive at 90km instead of the 100km speed limit when out and about, you can actually save 11% on petrol. I'm more than happy to try that one out with petrol prices the way they are. I mentioned recently that I saved $41 on our last power bill, which I was very impressed about, but I also discovered that by arranging an automatic payment with our supplier, I can ensure that my bill is always paid on its due date, which entitles me to a 10% discount each month. All it took was a couple of minutes to set up the payment online and now I can look forward to a whopping saving of almost $500 over a year! At least the tumble dryer will no longer be contributing to the power bill. After paying to have it fixed a few months ago (and only using it half a dozen times since), it has clapped out again and needs a new timer. Adios costly tumble dryer! People survived without them years ago and now so can I - the dryer has gone to the tip.

Quick online auction update - it's been a good few days and have so far added another $100 to my floor fund. I learned that sometimes it really does pay to keep your reserve as low as possible. I was going to sell some perfume and found heaps of listings for the same brand, with starting prices of $50 and upwards. None of them had even had a bite, so I decided to take a gamble and put a reserve of just $1.00 on mine. Straight away the bidding started going mad! With two days still to go, it has already made way more than I had hoped for, and the other listings for the same perfume have still had no bids. I also listed a Buzz Lightyear play set last week and set the reserve for $25. The auction lasted for seven days and ended without selling, as the highest bid was $23. Instead of offering the toy to the highest bidder, I decided to re-list the play set and try the $1.00 reserve trick again. Before the day was out, there were scores of bids and I had already made my $25 with another six days to go!

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