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.
Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:
'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!
'Purse system' helps me budget
To help me stick to my budget, I use the 'purse system', where I allocate a certain amount of money each payday to pay for different things, for example, petrol or groceries.
I found the envelope system aesthetically unappealing and difficult to operate, so I purchased a number of small pencil cases from Office Works; they're the perfect size to fit dollar notes into and any receipts for that particular 'budget purse'. I have a red case containing money for my groceries, a black case for my petrol and so on. They are also attractive enough that I use them as my wallets for these purposes; unlike envelopes, I am never too embarrassed to pull a case out and carry it into a shop. The cases cost $8.00 each but they motivate me to stick to a budget - a huge long-term saving!
Bulk white sauce mix for leftovers
Make all your leftovers taste fantastic with this bulk white sauce mix. Makes enough for 24 servings and you can keep it in the fridge:
2 cups (500g) powdered milk (I use skim)
1 cup (250g) plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (250g) butter or margarine.
Combine dry ingredients, add butter and blend until mix resembles dry breadcrumbs. Put in large air tight container. Store in fridge. Use within two months. I label the container with the date and method.
To make sauce combine, 1/2 cup mix to 1 cup
cool water. Add flavourings to suit, for example, curry, vegetables, onions, cheese, whatever you like!
Handmade gifts for under $2.00
This tip is from my Mum!
We love Christmas and everyone loves giving and receiving presents. When my mum told me that she had to buy a gift for each of the eight women in her craft group I nearly died! I couldn't understand why they didn't each buy one gift and each receive one random gift.
But was I suprised - they have rules. The gift must be kept to $1.00 and under no circumstances is it to exceed $2.00. You would not believe some of the beautiful gifts that my mother received - handmade decorations for the tree and house that would have cost $20 or more if bought at a shop and an inexpensive hand towel trimmed with a strip of delicate, intricate quilting that used up the creator's scraps.
And there was more. My mum was lucky enough to stumble onto a Royal Doulton Sell-out where she picked up eight tiny dishes, all different and delightful for $1.00 each. She made shortbread biscuits in star shapes and tied them together in pairs like buttons. Wrapped in Cellophane, they made another fabulous gift.
It proved to me that gift giving is not about the cost of the gift, but how hard you make the money work that you have worked for. In years gone by I used to do my Christmas shopping for family and friends on a budget of between $2.00 and $5.00 a person, and I never left anyone out and everyone appreciated their gifts because a lot of thought went into them. I think those gifts meant more than an expensive item bought on Christmas Eve as an afterthought.
Dinner for two for under $25
Try this impressive five star dinner for any special occasion (perfect for Valentine's Day!) for under $25!
This Valentine's Day, instead of the obligatory card swapping and outrageously priced meals at restaurants, my husband and I decided to make a concerted effort and have dinner at home.
He wanted to suprise me by serving Chateaubriand (eye fillet steak with Bearnaise sauce), which he adores. I, in turn wanted to make him Tiramisu, which has always been his favourite.
While he was out shopping, I whipped up dessert and then locked myself in the study.
After searching the Internet for intimate dinner ideas, I found every possible candle in the house and arranged them throughout our dining & lounge area!
Church candles on candlesticks and on plain white saucers, a runway of 15 tealights on gold tulle ribbon along the middle of the dinner table and on various other side tables and shelves (from my '$6.95-for-100' pack I bought at the Warehouse three years ago and am still using)!
I set the table for two and found some Miles Davis jazz CDs, bought from the Sanity bargain boxes for $6.99 each.
I then went back to my PC and set about writing not a Valentine's card, but a Valentine letter, which I bordered with clipart from a free site. After two pages, I knew that my words were more personal than any Hallmark card, and also it saved me $5.95.
I lit the candles, put on the music and our room had transformed with all the ambience of a private dining suite at a five star restaurant. My husband was lost for words!
Dinner and conversation was wonderful and during the night, our discussion turned to the cost - and saving - of our meal and we both agreed that it was far better to have stayed in than gone out.
Chateaubriand normally costs between $60-$70 for two; ours cost a grand total of $20.45 for two, including vegetables. We could have easily served three from it.
Tiramisu can cost between $7.50 up to $15 each at a restaurant. I bought the ingredients for half the recipe I found and at a total of $7.34, I still made 4 serves ($1.84 each).
Our wine was chosen from our wine rack, saved from previous dinners and occasions, saving us up to $40 on a restaurant bottle.
Altogether, our 'restaurant' dinner cost us $24.12, as opposed to a potential bill of up to $120 if we had dined out. We further saved on fuel, parking and a babysitter as the baby was home with us (asleep).
With the time we saved on travelling, we continued to talk, dance and enjoy each others company without any interruption.
The letter I wrote my husband brought him to a tear, and us just a little closer. As I sat there I realised the effort and surprise we gave to one another was priceless!
Cooking when the cupboards are bare
No more dashing to the shops to grab something for dinner when the cupboards are bare! I have discovered a great website to help make the best use of the food you already have in your fridge and pantry cupboard. It is (www.cookingbynumbers.com)
It gives you a list of ingredients and you tick what foodstuffs you have at home on the list, then it comes up with a range of recipes using those ingredients. It is amazing just how much you can make with what is already available to you! It saves on wastage and on buying extra ingredients.
The secret to freezing cream
Want to freeze cream without it becoming a watery mess once it's defrosted? The secret is to whip it before you freeze it. Defrost it naturally and you would never have known it was frozen.
This method lets me buy brand name cream when it’s on sale, usually as it's reaching its use by date. I whip it up, portion it off into 100ml containers and throw it in the freezer. I no longer have to worry about buying a full container of cream, then trying to think of how to use it all up before it reaches its expiry date. No more waste!
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!
120 bickies for $4!
Make over 120 bickies for just $4.00! This fantastic basic bickie recipe is terrific value, makes loads and has lots of room for variations:
1 tin condensed milk
1 cup sugar
5 cups self-raising flour
Cream sugar and margarine. Add condensed milk and flour. Roll into teaspoon sized balls and press down with a fork. Place on greased trays and bake in moderate oven until golden brown (approximately 10-15 minutes).
Before baking I divide the mixture into five and add the following ingredients for different flavoured bickies:
1. Chocolate chips and glace cherries (chopped)
2. Cornflakes and sultanas
3. Hundreds and Thousands
4. Jam drops
5. Milo and coconut
You could add any number of other things like Rice Bubbles, Smarties, nuts, cinnamon and other spices and so on. The raw mixture can be frozen in balls, just thaw slightly before baking.
From this one batch we made 123 bickies and by my calculations using the cheapest possible ingredients, the whole batch cost just over $4.00 to make!
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.
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