One step at a time

Posted February 19th, 2006 by Penny Wise

Isn't it amazing to think there are almost 8,000 hints in the Vault now?! When I joined Simple Savings, several thousand hints ago, I have to admit that it was a while before I started getting the most out of my Vault membership. I mean, all those hints - where's a girl to start looking? I found it all a little daunting, until I read a Savings Story by a woman called Beth Pastore (I think it was called A Simple Journey to a Better Life, but don't quote me). Faced with a huge money saving challenge, Beth and her husband coped with the enormity of their task by choosing one hint from the Vault each week to try out until they grew more confident. I thought this was a great idea and chose the same hint as Beth to start with - prolonging the life of razor blades in a dish of olive oil. Anyone who has read this blog over the past few months can testify how well this works! Anyway, from then on I never looked back, so a big thanks to Beth for showing me how it can be done.

These days, I take the ever-growing contents of the Vault in my stride. If there's a new way to make a saving, bring it on! The great thing about Simple Savings is that the information is always there. Some hints I will read about and go and try out for myself immediately; others I will make a note of, or just store somewhere in the back of my mind until the right time comes along. One such example is what I call a 'birthday book' and I know this kind of thing is used by several members. At the beginning of the year, I got a little notebook to keep in my bag. I wrote the name of each month on a separate page and the corresponding dates of any friends and family with a birthday that month. This way, when I am out and spot a potential bargain, I can check my birthday book, see who's coming up in the near future and take advantage of the great price. It means I am always organised for birthdays (which saves me heaps on buying cards too as I can buy as many as I need on special). Also, it means I have plenty of time (compared to the usual last minute purchase) to make sure I choose the right gift for the right person. One such fine example was at Christmas, when I impulsively bought my Mum some expensive body butter - it smelled fantastic and I thought she would love it. Instead, she got the wrong end of the stick and scolded me rotten. 'What on earth did you get me that for? I haven't got anyone to lick it off!' she tutted. I did try to tell her that she had got her body butter mixed up with body paint and that what I had bought her was a perfectly innocent product, but somehow I don't think she believed me!

Of course, the birthday book can also be modified for Christmas gift buying throughout the year as well - I'm just not that organised yet. However I have been organised enough to start compiling a 'gift box' - another Vault idea, so that when I do come across a bargain that's too good to miss, or decide to make a gift of something that I already have, such as an unwanted raffle prize, I just pop everything into the gift box and next time I need to find a gift or donation for someone, there is plenty for me to choose from. Saves a lot of rushing about believe me!

Yep, I've been trying to get organised this year - so much so that my frugal thinking even saved me a trip to the dump the other day! I had loaded up the car with several busted plastic laundry baskets that had broken handles, cracked sides and so forth and were no longer useful - so I thought. It was just in the nick of time that I decided to sort out my linen cupboard, which was driving me mad as everything had a habit of falling out the minute the door was opened - and there was the solution! The broken baskets were brought back in from the car and quickly put to good use - one for pet blankets, one for dust sheets, one for rags and tea towels. I can't believe I almost dumped them! My linen cupboard is tidy and organised for the first time in three years!

Another big change I have made is regarding baking - or spending any time in the kitchen whatsoever in fact. I used to hate baking of any kind - as far as I was concerned it was a total waste of time slaving over a hot oven only to have your family polish the whole lot off within a few hours, how unrewarding was that? Not so these days! I love spending time in the kitchen cooking for everyone, singing along with the radio and watching the boys drool over the latest offerings hot out of the oven. Yesterday alone I whipped up a dozen chocolate and banana muffins, a batch of brownies and no less than 60 chocolate chip cookies (thanks to an awesome Destitute Gourmet recipe - tastes just like the bought cookie dough!) Instead of feeling chained to the kitchen sink, I feel proud that I am doing the best for my family. The kids' lunchboxes have never looked so good! Instead of coming home from school and grabbing a Roll-Up or packet goods, they reach for the baking. As Mum and I discussed yesterday, her generation was brought up on nothing but home made food and they certainly didn't suffer for it!

A quick update on Noel's teeth. He dropped in at the emergency dental department at a city hospital last week. While no appointments are taken and he had to endure a wait of a couple of hours to be seen, he was delighted to report that the remnants of his tooth could be removed without the need of a general anaesthetic as first thought, for the sum of $170. A big change from the original $3000! He was really impressed with the service and would have no hesitation in going back for further treatment. High praise indeed from one so cynical!

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