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:
Hand sanitisers banish foot odour!
We are saving over $600 a year on shoe deodorisers! My husband has terribly smelly feet and is very embarrassed by the problem. It was costing us approximately $12 every week to buy different shoe inserts and powders, all of which were only temporarily effective. Now it only costs us $2.00 every two months! My husband has discovered that just a few drops of waterless hand sanitiser on each foot kills all the bacteria that causes the feet to smell. It takes just a few seconds to apply and evaporates very quickly, meaning no mess on his feet, socks or the carpets. He buys the large bottles of sanitiser for only $2.00 in the bargain stores and they work brilliantly. All his shoes, including his work boots, are now completely odourless!
Free on-line classes for computer skills
Save hundreds of dollars on learning computer skills with Hewlett Packard. Their website (www.hp.com) offers free online classes. Become proficient in Microsoft Word or Excel, take better photos and learn heaps of craft ideas to use them with. There are assignments at the end of each part of the course and a short quiz. There is also a message board to leave messages for the instructor and see how others are finding the course or even share ideas. There are two lessons available per week and you receive an email to let you know when each lesson is ready. You even get to print a certificate at the end, stating you have completed the course.
There are various courses available - some for small businesses and others for hobbies such as scrapbooking. Another bonus is you can print each page of the lessons as you go and keep them for future reference. Similar privately run courses or through WEA can cost a minimum of $100!
Professional rug cleaning - at the carwash!
I save over $300 every time I clean my rugs with this ingenious tip! About 12 months ago I bought three large rugs at a garage sale. They were marked, but mainly from day to day use. I figured even if I had to pay for them to be cleaned, it would still work out much cheaper than buying them new. Was I in for a shock when I rung around to get prices! To get just ONE of my average room sized carpets cleaned it was going to cost me around $100. Apparently they are harder to clean than a regular carpet, hence the hefty price. I was very disappointed and felt like I had just wasted the $110 I had spent on my 'bargain' rugs. I thought surely there had to be a better way - and there was! I rolled up one of the rugs and went down to the local do-it-yourself car wash. I hosed the dirt off the ground and then laid the rug down. Using the pressure spray on the soap cycle, I sprayed the rug, then used the rinse cycle to clean it all off! It was so easy; the high pressure made very light work of all the marks and left no soap behind. Best of all, it cost me less then $10 - a saving of $270 for all three rugs! The rugs dried in a day in the sun and they came up like new. My friends have all started doing this too and one of them swears that her rugs come up better then they did when she was paying to have them done professionally. It gets rid of all smells and marks right down to the backing. I wash my rugs every couple of months as I have three dogs and two young kids and this has saved me a whopping $1620 to date!
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!
How Simple Savings helped me to save money and lose weight
Here's how to lose weight and save!
A couple of years ago I joined Weight Watchers and went to four meetings. Joining was free from a coupon in a magazine but the meetings cost something like $15.95 each. I couldn't get motivated!
A few weeks ago, as I was bucketing the bath water into the toilet cistern to save water (a tip from Simple Savings), I realised that I am doing the exact same thing that Weight Watchers meetings could not motivate me to do. At WW the main things they encourage you to do are to eat 10% less at meals (this also helps the budget at shopping time) and to exercise more (this comes from carting water between the bath and the toilet and using the rain water tank to water the vegie patch and so on).
I am now losing about half a kilogram a week without even trying and I'm not paying $16 to do it. In fact, I'm making other savings as well - our last water bill was $40 less than that for the same time last year.
What has also happened for me in the last few months is that while saving money I have also become better at time management - planning meals for a month and shopping with a list have cut out a lot of unnecessary trips to the shops (not to mention the extra expense). I have cut $60 from my husband's spending money by supplying his lunch every day, along with some soft drink, a large bottle of water and a snack. He is happy because he still has a small amount of 'sanity money' in his pocket to splurge with every week.
My food budget absorbed this when I switched from a lot of brand name products to BI-LO brand products - I save from as little as $0.10c per item up to a couple of dollars per item. The biggest savings I make come from bulk buying - last month BI-LO had five kilograms of potatoes for $5.00, but when I went to the greengrocers they had them at $6.00 for a 20 kilo bag. These lasted for about a month and I couldn't bring myself to go to the fish and chip shop when I had 15 kilograms of 'free' potatoes in the pantry, so we had home-made wedges instead, saving another $6.00.
The excitement of saving money has also inspired me to do the things that I don't enjoy so much, such as mending and ironing, and I am gradually working my way through every room and cupboard, taking inventory of what can be used and how best to use it in a way that will save me money. I never thought I would actually look forward to going through years of accumulated junk! By organising my house, I am becoming a 'cleanie' and leaving the old 'messy' me behind - and I am enjoying every minute of it!
$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.
Add personal touch for successful renting
Going out of my way to present well to prospective landlords has really paid off for me. I recently had to find a new rental property and found that the open inspections where attracting many families at a time. Being a single mum of four, I knew I had my work cut out for me trying to get something over the two-parent families.
I decided I would write a covering letter as an introduction to the land agent/owners. I wrote about who we were and even what schools the kids went to, to show we were already established in the area, where I worked for the same reason. I got friends, my employer and my pastor to all write character references for me, which I copied and added with the letter. I also have a dog, which can be a problem so I got my then-current agent to write a reference for my dog too, which I also copied and added with the letter. I then attached these to the application, along with copies of my last four weeks' payslips and a payment summary from Centrelink.
The first house I applied for had more than 20 families and most of them were two-parent families. I added all the above mentioned stuff to my application and I was happy to receive a call the next day to say I was successful. I asked the agent if my letters and other details had helped and he told me that they had been the deciding factor. They liked that I had taken the extra step and cut out some of the work for them. They also appreciated that I had been so open with them. I would recommend this to anyone trying to rent a place. It takes only a little time and effort but could be just what you need to secure a house!
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.
1 litre water
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.
Break your expensive shopping habits
We've saved at least $10,000 this year alone, simply by changing our shopping habits!
Almost every day, we'd stop at the supermarket on our way home to buy fresh ingredients for dinner – however, we'd also buy a couple of impulse items while there. The daily grocery bill was at least $30; an extra $150 each week on top of our weekly 'big' grocery shop!
To reduce the number of trips we made to the supermarket, we analysed our spending habits. We looked at all the grocery items we purchased and separated them into three categories:
1. Perishable items that need to be used within a week or so, for example, milk, bread and vegetables.
2. Items that had a longer shelf life or could be stored so they last longer, for example, meat that could be frozen, canned items, pasta and rice.
3. Items with an extended shelf-life such as toilet paper, detergent, toothbrushes and so on. We then estimated how much of each item we would use in a year.
We looked at what we could make or grow ourselves, for example, bread baked in the oven or herbs and vegetables grown in the garden. That left a limited number of items we needed to buy on a weekly basis including milk, fruit and vegetables; at least until the garden was established. These were all items we could buy from the local fresh food market, avoiding a trip to the supermarket, which meant lower prices and fewer impulse buys.
The next step was to develop a monthly meal planner - five meals per week with two nights of leftovers or 'invention' cooking using whatever was in the fridge, freezer and cupboard. We put all the recipes in a folder and worked out a monthly shopping list based on these recipes. All non-perishable ingredients are now purchased in this monthly shop. Meat is also purchased monthly from a butcher who offers bulk purchase discounts; the meat is frozen in meal lots ready to be thawed in advance for each meal.
We don't tend to cook in bulk, as we enjoy the process of creating fresh meals each day, but we do cook enough to provide the next day's lunch and occasionally cook a couple of casseroles or 'one pot' dishes at the same time and put them in the fridge - the flavour seems to build and is even nicer after a day or two.
Our menus also change depending on the season and what produce is available at that time. We're in the process of developing 'summer', 'autumn', 'winter' and 'spring' meal plans with enough recipes to get us through each season.
Finally, during each monthly shop we'd buy extended shelf-life items when they were on special until we had a year's worth. It takes up some extra cupboard space but we never run out of essentials and don't have to duck out to the supermarket.
Our ultimate goal is to reduce our 'big' shops to once a quarter rather than monthly – this will save us even more time and money by further reducing our exposure to the supermarket.
We have saved $150 a week by eliminating daily shops – this adds up to $7800 annually. We've saved even more by shopping at fruit wholesalers and butchers, buying in bulk or taking advantage of specials. By changing our shopping habits, we estimate we've saved at least $10,000 this year!
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