Most Popular Hints

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Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

Natural sanitiser

I have been receiving your fabulous emails for ages and I thought I'd share a favourite saving hint of my own.
My naturopath gave me a tip which saves money and is better for our health too. She said that most hand sanitisers contain chemicals and antibacterial properties that not only kill bad bacteria but also kill off essential good bacteria. The good bacteria on our hands helps to fight off infections and acts as a barrier, so hand sanitisers can compromise our ability to protect ourselves.
My naturopath gave me a natural alternative. She told me to buy some small atomisers and a bottle of water-soluble tea tree oil from the chemist. I would then pour about 20 drops of oil into each atomiser, and fill with water – that's all it takes to make your very own antiseptic.
These natural sanitisers are cheap, effective and have a lovely scent. An atomiser easily fits into a handbag, and is very handy if the kids get scratches and scrapes after playing – a quick spray on the affected area is all it takes.
Tea tree oil really is the best antiseptic around and there are so many uses for it. Happy natural sanitising!

by: Tanya Hickey 16 responses in the members' forum

$21 Challenge keeps the 'budget nag' at bay

School holidays are more affordable with the help of the $21 Challenge! Money seems to slip away so effortlessly while out having fun with my teenage kids. Budgeting is something I am trying to teach them about but it is hard to make it relevant sometimes. Then I had a great idea that would make them pro-active with the weekly budget over the holidays, without me being a 'budget nag'.

It is the $21 Challenge week, with a twist. THEY have to go and log all the food in the freezer and pantry, and make up the meal plan for the week. Then all the money THEY save us for the week can go towards some guilt-free fun. It's a great incentive and my kids are learning important household skills.

by: Louise Blackmore 3 responses in the members' forum

20 kids' party gifts for $30

When my daughter started school last year, she had birthday after birthday to attend, which meant present after present. Last year, each present cost $25 to $35 and I couldn't afford to pay that much this year. So, I planned ahead!

Before every school year starts, Big W has a huge stationery sale, where I purchased the following:

  • 100 writing books at just $0.01c each, total cost of $1.00
  • 20 packs of 24 colouring pencils at $0.49c each, total cost of $9.80
  • 10 twin packs of safety scissors at $0.49c each, total cost of $4.90
  • Five eraser 4-packs at $0.99c each, total cost of $4.95
    - Five pencil sharpener 4-packs at $0.29c each, total cost of $1.45
    - Two 10-page sticker booklets with 150 stickers per page at $2.00 each, total cost of $4.00
    - Four sheets of contact paper in girl and boy themes at $0.99c each, total cost of $4.00.

Total for all this is just $30.10, and I'm able to make 20 presents! That's just over $1.50 per gift! At every birthday party, my daughter has presented the birthday girl or boy with the following gift:

  • Three books covered in contact paper
  • One pack of colouring pencils
  • One pair of safety scissors
  • One eraser
  • One sharpener
  • One page of stickers.

Both parents and children have loved this present because, unlike a toy they soon lose interest in, they can continue to use their imagination to create drawings.

by: Kowhai Enoka 25 responses in the members' forum

Dishcloths that last for months

I no longer use disposable cloths to wash the dishes and wipe down benches.
I recently bought two bulk packets of face cloths, giving me eight cloths. Each cloth is the perfect size and thickness for washing dishes and wiping down benches. I use a cloth for a day or two and then throw it into the wash with the tea towels.
I have been reusing the same cloths for over a year – just think of the savings now that I'm not buying disposable kitchen cloths every month!

by: Claire 25 responses in the members' forum

Get your food free all the time

When I separated from my husband and was left with three children, I had no income apart from the pension. Food was getting very scarce, so I had to become creative. Every second week I drove to Flemington fruit and vegetable markets in Sydney (about closing time when most food is the cheapest), bought food by the boxes, and spent the whole day processing it. I made vegetable lasagnes, which I would freeze, all sorts of sauces, vegetable selections for stir frying and steaming, mango ice blocks (pureed mango only) and so on. We would use the most perishable fruit and vegetables the first week and the others later. Eventually we started to have an overabundance of food.

Then I told a few friends of my system, and very soon I was running a little co-op. I started to go to the markets every week and buy a greater variety of food. I got my fruit and vegies free and could also split up my petrol bill for the week amongst participants of the co-op. They got their food much cheaper than in the shop, and I got my food and petrol free.

Apart from that we had the freshest food, with fresh fruit or vegetable juices every day. Out the window went fizzy drinks and any convenience foods. It is now about 14 years since we started to eat like this, and we don't even have a family doctor, because we hardly ever get sick. How much we saved on medicines I cannot even begin to calculate.

by: Bozena Warzecha 24 responses in the members' forum

Dishcloth keeps vegetables fresh

We buy our vegetables every week at our local Sunday market. Occasionally, we fail to get through all the produce by the end of the week, and we're left with some sad looking vegetables in the fridge. I just hate waste!
We've found that putting a Chux dishcloth, or any absorbent dishcloth, in the bottom of our veggie drawers makes a huge difference. It absorbs any moisture from the bottom of the drawer, and leaves our vegetables fresh and crisp for a whole lot longer. Every week, we wipe the drawer, throw the dishcloth in the wash and replace it with a new one for another week of fresh, crisp vegetables. By doing this, we save around $7.00 per week!

by: Lil 31 responses in the members' forum

Doona dollar saver

Instead of paying for one expensive doona, and the dry cleaning costs that come with it, buy two or three cheap doonas, pin them together at the corners, and put them into the same doona cover.

Because cheap doonas are thinner, you can wash them one at a time in your washing machine, and you can also adjust the warmth. When the weather starts getting warmer, just take one doona out of the cover and put it away in the cupboard.

by: shamaroo 13 responses in the members' forum

Freshen home naturally with clove spray

I am saving around $8.00 a week on expensive air fresheners and bug sprays, thanks to a kitchen mishap! After spilling some cloves during Christmas cooking, I boiled them in 250ml of water. The house smelled wonderful! I let them soak for a couple of days, then poured the water into a spray bottle where it became an instant room and cupboard fragrance. I use the spray to wipe all the kitchen cupboards and not only does it keep bugs away, the aroma is delicious whenever I open the cupboard. No more expensive chemical sprays for me!

by: Ok Katos 14 responses in the members' forum

Big savings on seeds

We have saved over $150 in seeds alone this past year. Instead of paying up to $5.00 for packets of seeds which may or may not sprout, we have started grabbing packets of seeds from the herb sections of Woolworths, Coles and IGA. Most mustard, coriander, fennel, cardamom or celery whole seeds that you get as a spice for cooking will sprout for you in your garden. These normally cost around $1.05 per packet and you will get a lot more seeds than if you bought them from a gardening shop. We also get the full dried peas (not freeze dried) from the soup section and have planted these successfully for three years now. They give us the sweetest sugar snap peas ever! A packet normally costs $1.53 and you get close to 100 seeds. In comparison to buy 'packet' seeds it would cost you over $12.

We also cut the ends off shallots and replant them, it takes about three weeks before they start to recover, but then you have an endless harvest of shallot leaves to use in salads. We do the same with old onions that have hidden themselves away in our cupboards and have sprouted. Plant them in your garden, let them go to seed and you will have a great seed stock for the next few years. No need to buy more!

Garlic can be done in the same way. Grab a clove and plant it flat end into the ground. After about four months you will get a great bulb of garlic from your original clove. Be aware that garlic from China or Mexico has been treated with Bromide (cancer causing agent) so only use Australian grown garlic.

Old potatoes and sweet potatoes that start sprouting can be replanted and will give a good yield. Just cut a 3cm piece around the sprouting part of the potato and plant it, from one potato alone you could get up to seven new plants.

Pumpkin, cucumber, capsicum and other vegetable seeds can be cleaned, dried and then planted out to give you more seed stock to play with. Try planting two different types of pumpkins near each other and you might get a hybrid created which tastes great. Our family had a butternut mix with a jap pumpkin and it was the sweetest tasting pumpkin we'd ever tried. We also let one or two of each vegetable go to seed so that next years planting will cost us even less. Our goal is to go totally self sufficient in the garden. So far we have an abundance of butter lettuce, silverbeet, rocket, mint, corn, tomatoes and sugar snap peas all from previously saved seeds.

by: Nat 9 responses in the members' forum

Take a break from paying the bills

This simple bill payment system lets you take a holiday from paying bills at Christmas time.

Every time I receive a bill, I pay $10 more than the amount required. For example, if the monthly phone bill is $50, I pay $60. This has worked really well for me, and come December I am able to stop the phone, internet, power and rates payments. I use this money for Christmas gifts, safe in the knowledge that my bills are covered.

by: Mel Smith