Most Popular Hints

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Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

$150,000 paid off mortgage in under 6 years

Simple Savings has become a way of life. I don't have to think about saving or spending now - it just comes naturally. In the past five and a half years, we have managed to pay a whopping $150,000 (principal) plus interest off our mortgage and still live happily and comfortably. This is all due to Simple Savings.

My husband and I have three young children and our combined income is only average, ranging between $50,000 - $70,000 per year. Readers may think 'I could never do that, I would have to go without too much' or 'that's impossible', but this is not true. We don't go without; in fact we feel we do pretty well! I cannot name just one single thing that has helped us to achieve this and still be happy - it is a multitude of tips and hints, all of which can be found on your site. I have always been a Simple Saver, so for me this was not hard, but my husband found not being able to spend money willy-nilly difficult at first. These days, I am proud to say he thinks before he spends and at times even proudly tells me of his smart purchase or why he didn't purchase!

I could go on and on giving examples on how to do what we have done, where we saved money and how we used it more wisely, but that would make a book and to be honest all people have to do is log on to your site, it's all there. Focus on your goals, walk hand in hand with Simple Savings and your dreams can come true.

by: Chris Floyd 231 responses in the members' forum

Weekly supermarket gift card saves for Christmas groceries

I add a supermarket gift card to my weekly grocery list and use them all up to shop for Christmas! After doing some calculations I realised that the ready-made Christmas hampers that you pay for weekly cost three times their actual value, not to mention the fact that they can include many products you won't ever use. My new system for buying Christmas groceries lets me buy my own hamper full of items at the current price or on special.

by: Denise Nolan 29 responses in the members' forum

Home-made muesli bars

I have a family of five children and I like them to eat healthy food that is inexpensive. I often try healthy recipes, and have found one for muesli bars that the kids (and Dad) and their school friends love. It's quick, easy, healthy (you know exactly what's in it) and economical.

Muesli bars

1 1/2 cups toasted muesli

(we use the apricot and almond variety; it doesn't have to be an expensive type)

2 1/2 cups of Rice Bubbles

1/2 cup coconut

1/4 cup crushed nuts

125 g butter (salt-reduced butter is good)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup choc chips

(I also add a tablespoon of linseed for extra fibre and omega-3 vitamins; they don't even taste this healthy addition.)

Mix the dry muesli, rice bubbles, coconut and nuts in a bowl. Place butter, honey, peanut butter and sugar into a small pan. Stir over low heat until melted. Allow to come to the boil then reduce the heat to simmer without stirring for five minutes. Pour this into the dry ingredients and stir well. Allow to cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes). Add choc chips and mix again. Line a scone tray with aluminium foil and press the mix into the tray until it is flat (you can use a glass to do this). Refrigerate until firm. Slice and serve. Store in the fridge for up to three weeks (if it lasts that long).

These save a fortune. This mix makes just over a kilo of muesli bars (I use a tray that is approx 28 cm x 36 cm and this will slice up to 30 standard size muesli bars). It costs around $3.50 to make (which can be less if you shop around and use generic or Aldi brands of butter, Rice Bubbles and muesli). Home Brand muesli bars are about $1.69 for six ($0.28c each) compared to around $0.11c each for these home-made ones. Uncle Toby's muesli bars cost between $0.40c and $0.49c per muesli bar.

by: Sara Dias 95 responses in the members' forum

Shop first, menu plan later

I have discovered that reversing my old way of shopping is much easier on my pension! Previously I always used to menu plan first, then go to the shops and walk up and down the aisles getting the things on my list (plus plenty that wasn't)! However once we retired I soon realised this was no longer working. I was spending more than we could afford at the supermarket and greengrocer. I needed to find a better way - and I found one!

These days, I do my menu planning and shopping the other way round. I go to the supermarket once a week and buy whatever is marked down. For example, this week I found Wagyu sausages down from $6.95 to $3 for six. That's enough to make three meals for the two of us! I also bought 4kg of chicken breasts marked down to $5.99 a kilo. I can mince some for lasagne, chop some for curries, cut strips for sate or just poach some for sandwiches. Either way I will get at least at least 20 meals for the $45 I spent!

The same goes for the greengrocer. Instead of planning what I was going to buy in advance I now only buy what he has outside in boxes on special. I pick out the best deals, then come home and menu plan around what I have bought. I am finding this so much better on the wallet and would encourage anyone to give it a go!

by: Duchess 56 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

Amazing two-ingredient pizza base

Making your own pizzas is a brilliant way to save money on buying them - but I bet you haven't tried this! You can save even more money on takeaway pizzas by making your own bases using just TWO ingredients!

This recipe makes two medium sized pizza bases:

2 cups self raising flour

1 x 200g tub natural yoghurt

Simply combine your two ingredients in a bowl and mix together until well combined. Turn out onto a floured board or surface. Knead together as usual, then divide into two equal parts. Roll out your pizza bases, add your chosen toppings and pop into the oven for 15 minutes at 220 degrees.

The results are so delicious. Simply use up whatever you have in the fridge to top your pizza and you've got a super cheap and filling meal. I've converted all my family and friends too! I dare you to give it a go, you'll be amazed!

by: Tracey 96 responses in the members' forum

Cheap pasta sauce recipe

I make this vegetable pasta sauce for three reasons - it's cheap and healthy and it uses up leftover vegies (cooked and uncooked) so I save three times!

Whenever I serve up a dish of vegies for dinner (usually broccoli, carrots, beans and zucchini in my house) and it isn't all eaten, I put the leftovers in a ziplock bag and throw it in the freezer. Then, when my fresh vegies are starting to get to that 'oh dear' stage, I start cooking!

In a big pot, with a bit of olive oil, I fry onion and garlic and add all the 'oh dear' vegies - sometimes there is a fiddly bit of broccoli that is too small to use in a meal or carrots that are starting to wilt. Other vegies I have added include celery, cauliflower, broad beans, spinach, cabbage and capsicum. I chop and cook all of this - in summer I add fresh tomatoes, in winter I throw in a couple of cans of Home Brand tinned tomatoes. To this I add the frozen leftover vegies, a squeezie stock concentrate or stock cube and some water.

I cook the whole lot until everything is soft, and then I blitz it in a food processor or with a Bamix until it looks like pasta sauce. I then freeze this in meal-size portions and use it for everything - I add it to mince for bolognese, or just use it neat. My kids don't know it's full of vegies - they just think it's another jar of commercial pasta sauce!

by: Clare Mckenzie 20 responses in the members' forum

Five dollar saving scheme

About a year ago my husband and I were having lunch at a seaside cafe when we noticed the people next to us paying their bill with $5 notes. We found out that they were on a trip around Australia and every time they were given a $5 note, they saved it and used it toward their food bill.

Thinking this was much better than saving $2 coins, I started doing the same. As soon as I receive a $5 note in my change, I pop it into my purse and then put it in a money box when I get home. I keep track of how much is in the box by writing the amount in my diary; when I get to $500 I empty the money box, take it to the bank and put the money into a term deposit for a rainy day.

So far I have saved $1435! I never miss the money and most times I go shopping I come home with at least one $5 note!

by: Lesley Royle

Give a bag full of happiness

For a super, low-cost, personal and heartfelt gift, why not give someone a Happy Bag? All you need is a plastic 'loot bag' such as those given away at children's birthday parties, and fill with the following:

*An eraser - so that you can make your mistakes disappear.

*Five cents - so you can never say that you're broke.

*A marble - in case someone says you've lost yours.

*A rubber band - to stretch yourself beyond your limits.

*A piece of string - to tie yourself together when things fall apart.

*A bear hug (cut out teddy bear picture or motif) - to remind you that someone cares.

by: Ann Westerman 6 responses in the members' forum

Unique and useful gift in a box

A fantastic and unique gift for under $25 is the 'Useful Box'. It makes an ideal Christmas gift but can be used for any occasion. Basically this comprises of a pretty box which contains lots of those little useful things everyone needs but doesn't always have in one place; such as extra pens, string, Blu-Tac and so on - all the sort of things you want now and again but don't usually have on hand when you need them!

By buying all the supplies at the supermarket and a beautiful gift box at a discount store to present them in, I was able to create an entire Useful Box for just under $25, but you could make it even cheaper depending on where you purchase your supplies. To make it extra special, I wrote a little poem to go with the package! Here is a breakdown of the items I bought and their prices:

Bag of rubber bands - $0.69c
Self-contained sewing kit - $3.98
2-hole pencil sharpener - $0.79c
Paperclips - $0.59c
2-pack of stickytape - $1.19
5-pack of blue pens - $1.99
3-pack of 2B pencils - $1.29
2-pack of erasers - $0.55c
Post-it notes - $0.99c
Permanent marker - $0.83c
Blu-Tac - $1.80
String - $1.99
4-pack of AA batteries - $4.07
Gift box to put it all in - $4.00

TOTAL - $24.75

Other things that might be useful to add include fridge magnets, staples and safety pins. I do recommend keeping everything in its original packaging, to avoid people being stabbed by pins or the erasers getting grubby. Just pop everything in the gift box (including the poem if you wish) and either wrap the box itself up, or simply tie it securely with ribbon.

I printed my poem out and taped it to the underside of the gift box lid, then wrote in the card 'be sure to look under the lid!' You are welcome to use the poem below to make your own 'Useful Box'.

'The Useful Box'

I am a box of useful things,
Gathered from across the land.
Inside me find those things you need
But do not always have on hand.

Next time you scratch your head and think
'I wish I had some Post-it notes'
Just open up my lid and find
The very thing you needed most.

When pencils break or pens run out,
When sticky tape just disappears,
When batteries fail or string is needed,
Let this box allay your fears.

So use me as your Useful Box,
And if you wish please add to me
Those things you like to have on hand
So wanting you need never be!

by: Harmony 11 responses in the members' forum