This week has been a week of startling revelations in our household! The first came last weekend, when the computer illiterate Noel discovered eBay. I had to giggle a couple of months ago when a member wrote in to Simple Savings and asked how she could save money on her husband's fishing hobby. Unfortunately I was unable to offer the dear lady any assistance about how to SAVE money on fishing, but I could have sent her a 30 page email on how easy it is to SPEND money on fishing. I do realise that not everyone is as fanatical as my hubby (if he doesn't get out on the water once a week he rapidly becomes unbearable to live with and starts pacing around the house - how DARE the wind be blowing in the wrong direction on the weekend!) but over the years, his love of fishing has cost an awful lot. Sure, if you go fishing off the rocks, it can be a cheap and enjoyable hobby, but once your man starts thinking about getting himself a fishing vessel, beware! In less than ten years Noel went from being the owner of a 12ft 'tinny', to a 14 foot boat and then an 18.5 foot bigger boat before going halves with his best mate on a REALLY big boat.
Once you get yourself a boat, your costs start going up straight away - what with petrol (for both car and boat - and you get through fuel at a startling rate once you've got a boat attached to your towbar!), bait and maintenance. The only way I have seen any evidence of savings is when Noel enlists a crew nice enough to chip in with bait and petrol costs for the day - which to be fair to his mates, most of the time they do. Nothing pleases Noel more than on the odd occasion he enters a supermarket and almost keels over at the price of fresh fish. While we may be saving $32 per kilo on supermarket prices, it probably costs him at least twice as much to go out there and catch them in the first place! However, I'm not really complaining, it's his only hobby and it's a great way for the kids to spend fantastic quality time with their Dad. Our boys were seasoned deep sea fishermen by the time they were three and have since progressed on to big game fish. The life experience those kids get from breathing in the sea air and getting close-up with dolphins, whales, penguins and marlin is worth every cent and they know just how lucky they are to be out there.
Anyway, back to the subject of saving! Another major cost of fishing is your gear, and when you fish as often as our family, you have to get decent rods and tackle. We've tried the cheap stuff over the years and you just end up throwing it out, repairing it constantly and buying better quality next time. At least this is an area where Noel has finally found a way to save! Last Saturday, the wind was blowing the wrong way again, and instead of his usual pacing, he did something absolutely unheard of - he sat on his bum for half the day in front of the computer! I couldn't believe it as he excitedly browsed the online auction sites for fishing rods, reels and lures. 'Look at these prices! We can save hundreds on here! I need never set foot in a shop again!' I wonder if I can actually persuade him to SELL some of his gear on there too! Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to be able to catch their own fish, and the supermarket prices are exorbitant, so if your budget will only stretch to the frozen variety, here's a fishy tip; When you take the fish out to thaw, defrost the fillets in milk - just enough to cover the bottom of your dish. I don't know how or why, but doing this gets rid of the 'frozen' taste and it'll taste as good as when it first came out of the sea!
I'm also proud to say that I have the cleanest, shiniest floor in the neighbourhood thanks to a Vault tip! I bought a bottle of cloudy ammonia because I had read in the Vault that it was good for cleaning, so next time I needed to wash the floor, I followed one of the tips and added a cup of ammonia and cup of cheapo dishwashing detergent to three litres of hot water. I couldn't believe how clean my lino floors came up - I could see my reflection in them! I'll never use anything else again. The only downsides to using this is 1) It makes your floor very slippery until it dries, so do be careful or you'll go for a skate and 2) The smell. Phew! It almost knocked me out, and apologies if it sounds uncouth but anyone who has ever owned a cat will be familiar with the scent of ammonia. For a while it smelled every feline in the district had left a nasty puddle on my floor, but thank goodness it does fade quickly. For a cleaning result like that, I'm prepared to put up with the smell!