Most Popular Hints

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Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

Wonderful gift giving policy

A friend gave me some great advice that is saving me a fortune.
She gave me a lovely crocheted brooch for my birthday, adding that her policy is to only give gifts that are recycled or made at home. I have embraced this policy, and proudly share it whenever possible. Not only am I saving huge amounts of money, but I am also re-using resources in an ecologically friendly way. Another benefit is that I am embracing my creative side to come up with so many ideas e.g. crafts, baking, gardening, knitting and so on.
My ideas come from library books and most of the materials from Op shops and friends' abandoned projects. I have got some amazing projects ready for Christmas e.g. three sad rag dollies rescued from the Hospice for $2.00 are now fresh and bright with smart buttons and ribbons, and will be loved for many years by my three girls. One daughter will have fab roller skates too – just $10 from a church sale, snazzed up with fluoro laces and personalised with a name charm.
Rather than feeling reluctant to buy second hand gifts, I am now always scouting for the perfect gift. I feel my policy is one that embraces our present cultural climate of economic thrift and resourcefulness. I have also rediscovered the joy of home craft and am now sharing these skills with my children, as my Mum did with me.

by: Avalon Sanders 12 responses in the members' forum

Live smart and have it all

Our wonderful daughter is a saver on the grandest scale. At 29 years old and earning a modest wage, she is building her first mortgage free home on five acres; as well as flying out to Bali for a holiday! She has had several serious health problems but is amazing in her efforts to follow her plan, thanks to the support of her equally admirable husband. Their two horses and two dogs are greatly loved and their lifestyle is totally free of unnecessary expenditure. They own their block of land, furniture and vehicles as they need them to drive to work.

To save rent while rebuilding they bought a duplex then removed junk, scrubbed, painted and renovated by finding the best way to build fences, roof a pergola and fix the faults. Meanwhile they have fenced their own block of land, installed gates, had a bore sunk, built open stables themselves with salvaged material and negotiated the big expenses of shed, driveway and site costs.

They are not without experience as she purchased her first property at 19, a unit which she and her father gutted and renovated. Her husband joined in and renovated a property, then they renovated a joint property before they purchased five acres, built a house and developed it for resale so that they could buy their current land. Recycling has included rescuing old baths for horse water troughs, finding a kitchen sink for a fish cleaning bench and rebuilding an old horse float. They planted and watered tube stock trees, had family members grow cuttings and even used the horses to mow the lawns. In fact one horse was purchased for the knacker's fee and the other was free.

No, she hasn't benefitted from a first home buyer's grant as she was too young at the time of her first unit, or from family gifts. Just planning, following her dream and sticking to the budget. It works!

by: Marg. Mansfield 6 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

'Grandma's Day' saves $30 a week on groceries

My husband and I have began saving up to $30 per week on our grocery bill since we invented 'Grandma's Day!' When we go to the supermarket we ask ourselves, 'would Grandma have been able to buy this item in her day 60+ years ago?' If the answer is no, then we decide we don't need to buy it either! This saves us money on a whole range of items such as fancy dips, designer coffees and biscuits. We used to pay over $3 for a pack of 10 biscuits, now I can make 12 biscuits for around $1. Using plain yoghurt as a base we are even making our own dips; there are so many websites with great dip ideas. Now we are saving valuable money and our waistlines too!

by: Kitty 8 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 22 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

Grandmotherly skill finds new purpose

A novel idea to help my Mum save on new ceiling fans has led to some fantastic and unexpected long-term savings! After being quoted a whopping $160 per unit (pensioner rate) to get ceiling fans installed, we took matters into our own hands and placed an advertisement on local notice boards. It read: 'Experienced licensed electrician required to install three ceiling fans. I would like to trade the costs by doing your washing and ironing for one month.’

Within a few days, Mum had received several enquiries and selected a nice, young single guy who needed a 'mother's touch' to some of his clothes - a lot of stain removal and buttons re-sewn. He installed the fans and dropped and picked the clothes up from her place on a weekly basis. To our surprise we learned he also had connections to plumbers and gardeners and she was soon able to have her bathroom wall retiled in exchange for scrubbing out an oven and re-organising a food pantry for a couple that were having a baby soon.

It didn’t stop there! Before long she was taking up hems, sewing on buttons and doing basic mending in exchange for garden maintenance and mowing lawns. These guys are ripping up old items from homes every day with their trades so these days they even search around to find her the cheapest - or even free - items if she needs them, as well as providing an oven door and dials on her heater for free. They often come across things that others could use but end up in the tip instead.

As a pensioner, Mum has time on her hands and is very experienced in household chores but has a limited income. This trade of skills and services means she can now carry out tasks within her ability and has made some fantastic friends. Her place looks amazing and is she even happy to do babysitting for the families. In turn they really appreciate having a cuddly grandmother figure around. She has a new purpose and a whole new social network too - in fact she looks 10 years younger!

by: Moo Moo 68 responses in the members' forum

Fresh fruit straps your kids will love

I have found a cheap and healthy way to make preservative free fruit straps that kids love. This works best with pears and apples, just boil them up, then puree them, making sure there isn't much water left.

Once you have done this, spread it out in equal portions onto baking paper and bake in the oven for a few minutes. Allow them to cool and there you have it! Freshly made fruit straps with no extra preservatives in them. Healthy and fun for the kids to help prepare. You may need to add a little sugar or sweetening agent if you are using more sour tasting fruit.

by: Loretta Warford 23 responses in the members' forum

Grandma's promising gift

My grandson turned six on Boxing Day, and I came up with a new idea for a birthday present that will bring him lots of fun over the next six months. It's called a 'Promise Photo Frame'; here's how it works.
I bought a large photo frame with spaces for six different photos. I then downloaded ClipArt pictures of various activities and put them in the spaces with the following captions:
Trip to Beach with Grandma
Trip to Zoo with Grandma
Train ride with Grandma
Trip to playground with Grandma
Dinner out with Grandma
Movies with Grandma
My Grandson can choose one activity to do with me each month, and when we go out, we'll take a photo of the actual event to put in the space on the frame. This gift, and the activities, can be modified to suit all children, and even adults.

by: Woolfie 29 responses in the members' forum