Most Popular Hints

Vault members get access to more than 18,000 hints in the Vault, plus hundreds of recipes, a very friendly forum, heaps of downloadable tools, and thousands of blog posts by hundreds of authors.

Get your membership here!

Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

How to make your own white board

We made our own white board for next to nothing out of an old glass frame and some white spray paint. I got an old picture frame with glass in it for $4.00 from Vinnies. I took out the glass, cleaned it and spray painted one side with white paint. I then painted the frame black and put it all back together again with the painted side of the glass on the inside, and my new white board was ready. I use regular white board markers on it and it only takes a tissue or cloth to wipe off.

by: John & Penny Coppola 12 responses in the members' forum

Confessions of a shopaholic

Transforming myself from a shopaholic to a smarter consumer has enriched my whole life. Not only am I saving money, my life has become deeper and more meaningful since I decided to live by the following rules:

  • Keep away from the shops.
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Buy second hand if you can.
  • Be stylish, not fashionable.
  • Don't buy what you can borrow.
  • Stop reading glossy magazines that encourage shopping.
  • Borrow books and magazines from the library.
  • Read about simple living.
  • Do it slowly.
  • Spend more time with your family and friends.

These rules may sound simple, but they have changed my life. For as long as I can remember, I have loved shopping. I could easily do it all day, every day and never tired of it. I enjoyed the quest to find bargains or something I had 'always' wanted or didn't yet have.

When I felt angry, sad, lonely, fat, old, poor, disappointed, rejected, embarrassed or simply 'not good enough' - I went shopping. It made me feel better.

When I felt happy, confident, rich, delighted, loved, appreciated and 'on top of the world' - I celebrated by going shopping.

Although I work full time, I had never paid off my credit card and financially I was always struggling. Then I heard about climate change and the impact my shopping was making on the environment. That's when I decided I would stop shopping all the time.

At first, this decision left an enormous vaccuum in my life. I used to be very busy - 'Never enough time in the day' was my mantra. Then suddenly I had lots of free time! I didn't have many really close friends, except my mother and sister. We often used to meet for a coffee and a chat while we were out shopping. But with all the free time I now had, I realised I had been too busy to make other meaningful friendships because of my constant shopping.

I don't meet my mum or sister at the shops any more. We now get together in each others' homes and, although I have always enjoyed their company, I rediscovered a deeper connection with them. We talk, laugh and cry for hours and hours. I am learning so much more about them. I have started to deepen the friendships I have with people who were just 'acquaintances' before. Instead of shopping, I invite them over for a cup of tea or lunch or for a walk along the beach. I'm even starting a book club.

Due to the money I was able to save from not shopping so much and because I wanted to entertain more, I rented out my small unit and moved to a lovely old house. However I soon realised I needed more furniture, so I bought it all very cheaply, secondhand from eBay. Everyone who visits my home says how wonderful and stylish it is. I love making cheap, affordable meals for my friends. I had my first party on New Year's Eve and 35 people came, each bringing their own meat, drinks or salads. To any shopaholics out there like me, it IS possible to change - I'm living proof!

by: Jane 24 responses in the members' forum

Puzzling our way to a new house

My husband and I have finally found the key to successful saving! The two of us are dreadful savers; while we're good at putting spare change in a jar, we don't know what to do with it once the jar is full! We thought a saving thermometer would be helpful, but wanted something that wouldn't be so obvious when people came over to visit. So we came up with a more subtle brainwave - a jigsaw puzzle!

We bought a jigsaw of what we wanted (a house) and assigned a dollar amount to every piece. Now we 'buy' pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, the money goes in our jar and we bank the money once a month. We even set up challenges for ourselves, such as who 'buys' the most pieces in a month, and we never have to worry about what to buy each other for presents - we buy pieces of the puzzle of course! Once we've completed the puzzle we're going to hang it on the wall - of our new house!

by: Castaway 25 responses in the members' forum

Bickies in a hurry

I have just read the recipe for nut and oatmeal bickies on this site. I have used a similar recipe many times and find that six dozen bickies in one baking session are just too many. So, I only bake one dozen, shape the rest of the batter into balls, lay them in a single layer on a plate or roasting dish and place in the freezer. Once frozen, I put them into plastic sealed bags so they are free-flow and I can cook as many or as few as I need at 18 minutes notice - a couple of extra minutes since they are frozen to start with.
This is great for unexpected visitors, kid’s afternoon teas or $21 Challenge weeks. My friends think I'm so clever!

by: Shelley Dudson 3 responses in the members' forum

'Miracle' moisturising cream

For just $10 I've finally discovered soft skin. I had always suffered from dry skin and, over the years, had spent a fortune on moisturisers in every price range. I never really found anything that I could put on at night which left my skin soft and moist in the morning. It seemed my skin was always thirsty. Then I read in Vogue magazine, about a woman who used Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream as a facial mask. She also suffered from dry skin and her dermatologist had advised her to do this. Having nothing to lose, I decided to give it a go myself. It costs well under $10 and is available at Priceline and in most supermarkets. I chose the fragrance-free one and can honestly say it is the best moisturiser I have ever used. I use it every day under make-up and my skin looks 'dewy' all day long. I apply more in the evening before bed and my skin feels lovely in the morning. I even apply it thickly as a mask sometimes, with great results - and it beats a facial in terms of how my skin feels the next day. So if you have dry or mature skin - give it a try. It is also amazing on dry feet - it really is a miracle! It's amazing to think of how many dollars I will save from now on on my new, simple skincare product!

by: Annabel 35 responses in the members' forum

Baby oil keeps showers clean for months

Keep glass showers sparkling clean for months at a time by using baby oil. First, clean the glass on the inside of the shower well, then dry off. Next, take a soft cloth and smear a small amount of baby oil. I stress a SMALL amount to ensure no oil runs down to the base of the shower, creating a potential hazard. Pay extra attention to wiping the edges and bottom of the glass. Once you have done this, the glass will look smeary and quite awful really - until you have the next shower! The hot water heats the oil and smooths it out on the glass. I have never had the problem of any oil running down onto the floor, even after heating it. You'll find a very small amount goes a very long way. Basically, the soap scum cannot attach itself to the glass, which stays clean and clear for at least three months at a time. By needing to re-apply the baby oil only every few months, this adds up to a huge saving in expensive bathroom cleaners!

by: Nat 29 responses in the members' forum

Home mixed household cleaner

My mother is chronically ill and disabled. She suffers from a rare type of auto-immune disease, called lupus, and is therefore allergic to most chemicals. This made cleaning difficult because she was allergic to most cleaning products, or those she wasn't allergic to were too expensive to buy on my carer's pension. Because Mum's disease is an auto-immune disease, I have to keep our house hospital-grade clean.

So I have come up with a fantastic recipe, and my house is spotless, smells great and is fresh and clean. The solution cleans and polishes everything, including windows. I have never seen glass and stainless steel taps look so clean.

This solution also lasts forever. Household cleaner used to cost me $80 per month, but now I buy detergent every three months, vinegar once a year at $1.50, washing soda every 18 months at $0.98c and eucalyptus oil once every eight months at $3.50 - a saving of $880 a year minus $20 for the few items I do buy. In total I've saved around $2640 over three years.

Household Cleaner

1 litre water
200ml vinegar
40ml detergent
40ml eucalyptus oil
2 dessertspoons of washing soda

Mix all ingredients together, and it's ready to use. Use 60ml of solution in warm water to wash your floors. Fill a spray bottle and use it to clean your table, benches and bathroom.

by: Becky-lee Taylor 436 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

Monthly get together without spending

My mother, sister and I have changed our spendthrift ways to help each other out and enjoy quality time and a regular meal together.

We used to spend our weekends shopping. Of course we bought things we did not need. Even worse, we spent tons of money on eating out in the mall! So, we changed our habits! Once a month we spend a day at one of our houses, taking it in turns. The hostess is responsible for lunch and the others help her with a project around her house.

For example, we have painted a playroom, done general cleaning, cleaned a garage, collected items for charity and more!

by: Kellie Van es 10 responses in the members' forum

Simple equation helps pay mortgage

My husband and I have set a goal to pay off our mortgage within five years. We have a way to go, but keeping this goal in mind has helped us to curb our spending.

I worked out that any amount I put on our mortgage is actually worth five times that amount due to the saving in interest. So when I am thinking about spending $20 on a top, I multiply this amount by five and realise that I do not want to spend $100 on a $20 top! That $20 would be much better invested if it was put into our mortgage.

by: silky (Kylie) 19 responses in the members' forum