Most Popular Hints

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Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

Sometimes we all have to just make do!

At 12 years old, my daughter is already helping our family save money on snacks using her Simple Savings skills! With five children in the house, we do a big shop just once a month and are careful to make our food and treats last until the next shop. Recently we were nearing the end of the month and getting low on food. I arrived home one day to find my daughter baking biscuits. 'They're Doos!' she told me. 'You always said if there was nothing in the cupboard, we had to make do, so I made Doos!'

The name has stuck in our house and now whenever we have 'nothing' in the house for lunch boxes, snacks or afternoon tea, she just makes a batch of 'Doos' using whatever she can find in the pantry to 'make do' with. She is proving to be very inventive with her recipes and is turning out to be a real baker. She'll turn out simple but delicious treats such as honey joys, choc chip biscuits, Anzac biscuits, pikelets and pancakes in no time at all! She really has shown that you can make something from almost anything in the pantry and would be wonderful at the $21 Challenge! Here is the recipe for her latest creation, called 'Sort of Scones!'

1 cup oats
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup sugar
125g butter
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Mix all ingredients together, then roll into balls and place on a greased baking tray. Bake in a moderate oven (around 180C) for 10 minutes.

I couldn't be prouder of my daughter's efforts to help us save money and keep everyone well fed. Whenever we think our parenting has a lot to be desired, it's moments like this which prove we have to be doing something right - good things do rub off too!

by: Jenny Cuffe 34 responses in the members' forum

Bulk liquid hand soap the easy way

I found a way to save almost $50 a year on liquid hand soap with hardly any effort! Just take a bucket filled with four litres of water. Drop a bar of generic soap into it and let it soak for 24 hours. Give it a mix and pour into clean two-litre milk bottles. Just top up pump bottles when needed. For a little added luxury, add half a cup of sorbolene cream and a few drops of glycerine. Works a treat!

by: Rachel Warner 53 responses in the members' forum

Careful planning feeds large family for $115 a week

I feed my family of six on a little over $230 a fortnight with a bit of planning and a lot of baking! I buy a bulk 2kg pack of beef mince from Aldi ($11) and a 2kg pack of chicken ($20) as well as jars or packs of sauces. I separate the mince into four 500g lots and make rissoles with one lot (adding grated carrot and zucchini), then I put the rest away for spaghetti, pasta bake and burrito/taco night. This makes four main meals and we often have leftovers for lunch the next day.
I take three or four of the chicken breasts and slice them in half or into thirds, tenderise them with a mallet and cook them for sandwiches. I slice and dice the rest of the chicken for stir fries, casseroles, wraps and burritos. This gives me another four or five main meals plus leftovers. This way I spend around $230 on my main shop a fortnight, including nappies. I bake a lot which cuts back on the cost of expensive snacks for the children and I always have a pack of jelly on hand to 'treat' them when the cupboards are really bare
I also plan my meals around what fresh veggies I have in the fridge and leave the frozen ones until after I have run out of fresh ones, and I alternate rice and pasta with couscous and potatoes or cauliflower bake.
It just goes to show that frugal and planning don't have to mean boring!

by: Tracy Bratt 45 responses in the members' forum

$1.00 a thousand times over

We had the chance to travel overseas several years ago but had to save $1000 to make it happen. On one income with two small children it seemed impossible. Then I had the brainwave - I didn't have to save $1000, I had to save $1.00 a thousand times! This was so much easier - a generic brand product at the grocery store, a chocolate bar at the petrol station and so on, soon added up and the savings contributed to a great family holiday.

by: MJD 59 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

A simple journey to a better life

I live with my husband and 4 year old twin boys in a unit and we discovered Simple Savings at a time that was very difficult in the life of our family. I wanted to share a bit of our journey that led to saving money and an improvement of our quality of life.

When I discovered Simple Savings my husband was a self employed contractor who was in between jobs and our income became more limited as I work part time and we have many fixed expenses including a large mortgage and preschool fees.

We were feeling very stressed emotionally as well and finding daily living difficult to manage. I pored over the Savings Vault and found a wealth of information so assist us in reducing our expenses. As we were feeling quite vulnerable and finding change a struggle we picked one tip a week to research or implement and we started with the simplest first so we could experience enough success to motivate us to continue.

So the first week my husband put his razor in a small glass of olive oil (to prevent rust and make the blade last longer). Then we replaced our fabric softner with 1/4 cup of vinegar and put vinegar in a pump spray pack to clean our benches. We also used vinegar to clean our floors. As we "succeeded" we began to feel better about life as we were exercising the control we could to improve our situation and it felt creative.

We also:

Researched car/house/contents insurance for the best deal

Started to shop at Aldi regularly, knowing from other Simple Savings users which were the best value products

We found a wholesale butcher (Elvy's Wholesale Meats 2/19 Norman St, Peakhurst tel: 9153 6656)

We started cleaning our dishwasher with citric acid

We gave homemade gingerbread houses and biscuits as Christmas gifts

Our children made gift wrap (painted and glittered) from a roll of butchers paper bought for $10 at IKEA which is very personal and inexpensive.

We joined 3 different DVD clubs and got a free month from each before cancelling which gave us great free entertainment over the Christmas months.

We found websites for children's activites, and a recipe for homemade playdoh that we love and have given to other children as gifts.

We also bought $8 worth of alphabet and flower beads and bracelet elastic from The Reject Shop and made 13 name bracelets for preschool teachers and friends. My boys really knew the joy of giving something that they had helped choose and make. The recipients were joyous at the personal nature of the gift.

I now make my own bath products for our family and for gifts from the recipes and websites reccommended by Simple Savings subscribers.

We are adding to our life routine regularly and we are loving our life. This week I have taken my first week of unpaid leave from work to be with my cherubs during the school holidays and it is such a priceless and precious gift.

I really appreciate the invaluable life tools that I have gained from your website and value sharing this way of life with my children. And I encourage the overwhelmed to add one tip a week to your life...they all add up to big change.

by: Beth P 19 responses in the members' forum

100% effective 'No More Clutter' deterrent!

I have come up with a simple yet super effective way of making sure I never waste any more money on clutter! I'm a sucker for buying toys for my children. Consequently I am now drowning in broken toys, clutter and debt. But now when I'm in the department stores and see something on special or think, 'my girls would love that', I open up my bag and get out my deterrent! I look at the photos I have taken of my lounge covered in toys and clutter and remember that not am I only saving money by not buying more, I am also saving the planet - and my sanity! Works every time!

by: Jubes (NZ) 12 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

Healthy eating for less

I have finally convinced my three daughters that eating a healthy lunch, including sandwiches with salad, is not only good for them but tastes great too. However, soon after changing their lunch habits, I found that this method was taking a large chunk out of our budget.

Being a working mum, it was easier to stop at the supermarket on the way home and buy pre-packed salad ingredients, but I soon discovered it was adding around $55 to the weekly budget. Plus, buying cold meat to match everyone's tastes added another $40 per week. I decided it was time to cut down. After doing some homework looking for the best prices and quality, I now purchase a bag of carrots, a couple of fresh beetroot, some fresh bean sprouts and cucumbers and a variety of lettuce. I noticed that by purchasing these items late on Sunday afternoon, I can pick them up even cheaper.

I grate my own carrot, beetroot and cucumber, throw in the bean sprouts and store in the fridge in an airtight container. I tear up the lettuce leaves and mix together in a plastic shopping bag and store in the vegetable crisper where they stay fresh and crunchy all week. My salad ingredients now cost less than $10 per week and they last longer. Throw in a small portion of sundried tomatoes for my hubby and I add approx another $1.50 to my total.

Instead of buying cold meat from the supermarket deli, I now purchase a couple of extra chicken breast fillets from my Asian butchery for around $4.00; this is cheaper than ALDI or any other local fresh meat source. I cook and shred the chicken myself while tinned salmon and tuna add extra variety; a $0.69c tin of tuna covers two lunches when added to salad. I purchase mince when it is on special and make a large batch of meatballs, which are frozen and used over a period of weeks as another filling alternative. Another favourite is home cooked corn beef; rather than putting the leftovers in the fridge, I slice it thinly and freeze for another filling choice.

My three girls are now involved in the Sunday afternoon preparations. Whilst my eldest daughter is madly grating the salad items, I tear up the lettuce and my younger daughters have great fun mixing the meatball ingredients and rolling them ready to cook.

Our family of five is still eating yummy healthy lunches but for $70 to $75 a week less than before!
We also have the added bonus of spending time together while we prepare and my daughters are learning new skills too.

by: Tracy New 7 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 8 responses in the members' forum