Most Popular Hints

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Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

An early dinner is a big saver!

I'm saving money, time and sanity by serving dinner much earlier – here's how! With three young school children, I was finding they were coming home really hungry from school, eating up and were not hungry at dinner time. This meant I was struggling to find healthy, economical after school snacks and throwing away perfectly good dinners! The solution? I changed our dinner time to 3.30–4pm! They have a healthy, nutritious meal when they're hungry and a small snack such as fruit later in the evening. No wasted dinners, no stressed mummy! I have their dinner ready when they get home and then have more time to help them with homework. They are also helping out more with dishes and so on, which is a great help to me.

by: sinders (the other cindy) 72 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

One tablespoon only per wash

Slash your washing powder costs by using a tablespoon of washing powder in your machine instead of a scoop. It works just as well! My sister was learning about budgeting and the speaker mentioned that you could get the same wash results by using one flat tablespoon of washing powder as you could if you used a whole scoop. I decided to test this theory and found that even with a full load of washing this proved to be true. I buy a top brand washing powder that costs around $10 per two kilo box and it contains around 148 tablespoons. I used to go through a two kilo box of powder every four to six weeks when I was using a scoop. Generally I do a load of washing every second day, so using one tablespoon per wash, my box of washing powder should now last me nearly 10 months! Just changing this small habit will save me $90 every 10 months on washing powder!

by: Bec C 73 responses in the members' forum

Exercise has financial rewards

I pay myself to exercise! Now, you may wonder how that actually saves me money. Because my exercise is free, usually walking with a friend or working out to DVDs I've received as gifts, I don’t have to buy expensive exercise clothes or pay for a gym membership. And paying myself to exercise? That gives me motivation. I started with $1.00 for every day I exercised, and increased it to $2.00 a day - still cheaper per week than a single exercise class or gym membership! I wait until I have enough money for a facial or massage, and treat myself.

I find that the end goal of some pampering really works as an incentive to keep exercising. Prior to this, I never let myself splurge on those sort of things. I am now happier, healthier and far more relaxed!

by: Jo Hardy

Cook two simultaneous meals in one crock pot

We are a family of only two adults who cook often with a large crock pot. However we do find ourselves with a heap of left overs after cooking a pot full of food. So, instead of filling the crock pot with enough food for one meal several times over, we now take two oven bags and divide our meat/chicken/fish between both bags. We add different flavourings to each bag then arrange both bags in the slow cooker and cook on low for eight hours. I have just made Chicken Korma in one bag, using drumsticks that were on special with an extra pinch of cinnamon and some chilli, and Mediterranean Chicken with olives in the other bag. The conflicting smells are surprisingly delightful and the final result is two delicious meals both cooked with the same amount of power I would have used for one. Any extras we don't consume straight away I simply freeze and save for a later date.

by: Linda P 74 responses in the members' forum

Make your own liquid handwash soap

I can make four litres of handwashing gel soap for under $1.00! To make your own liquid gel soap, grate a bar of Sunlight or generic laundry soap into a two litre ice cream container. Pour boiling water to half fill the container and mix to dissolve the soap. Carefully fill to the top with boiling water and mix well. Pour half the mixture into another two litre container and top up both with boiling water again. The gel is very thick once it sets, but a good consistency for its purpose. Store in the two litre containers and refill pump bottles as needed. One pump is all it needs to clean your hands and can even wash dirty dishes if you squirt into the sink!

by: Latisha Waterman 158 responses in the members' forum

Home sweet home for $63

As a new singleton, I have learned not to let my pride stand in the way of making a new home for myself on a budget. I recently separated from my husband of 14 years and moved out of the family home. We share our four children week-about but I wanted to leave the family home as complete as I could for some sort of stability for the kids. With so little to now call my own I had no choice but to swallow my pride and 'put it out to the universe' that I needed quite a bit to furnish my new home.

At the op shop I purchased three Jason recliners, a telephone table, two tallboys, a desk, four bedside drawers, a single mattress and linen for the beds for $63, including delivery!

By word of mouth through friends I was given: a washing machine, microwave, crockery, glasses, towels, THREE TVs and a TV/stereo unit, a digital set top box, two stereos, a BBQ, a brand new gas bottle for the BBQ, a gorgeous white cast iron bed for my daughter, a queen size bed and three single beds, a computer, a bookshelf, a two seater couch, a bike and doonas for us all, as well as pillows. I gave away a few of the TVs and one of the stereos to people who needed it.

I also found that if you ask your friends if they have excess tea towels, coffee cups and so on, you'll find that they can often spare a few of these items.

Most importantly of all, I have learned that I don't need matching crockery or linen to make a home, just the basics and a lot of love!

by: Jo Keogh 8 responses in the members' forum

Super bake anything mix

Use this one basic mix to make scones, scrolls, pikelets, pancakes and waffles! It will save you heaps of time and heaps more money!

SUPER BAKE-ANYTHING MIX:

In a large Tupperware container, mix:

2 kg packet SR flour

2 tbs + 1 tsp salt

1/3 cup + 1 tbs + 1 tsp sugar.

SCONES:

In bowl, add two cups baking mix. Rub in 2 tbs butter until mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in 3/4 to 1 cup of milk, until moist but not too sticky. Don't overmix. Roll lightly and cut into shapes with biscuit cutter. Place on lightly floured baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden.

SCROLLS:

Complete mixture as for scones. Roll out with rolling pin until 1 cm thick. Spread with softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and a little cinnamon. Roll up tightly from long edge. Cut scrolls into 2 cm slices. Bake on baking tray 10-12 minutes.

Variations: Use your favourite jam or make pizza scrolls using tomato paste, ham & cheese.

PIKELETS/PANCAKES/WAFFLES:

To two cups of mix, add one egg, 1+ cups of milk, 1 tbs oil. Beat together until thick but slightly runny. Makes small pikelets, large pancakes or waffles.

by: Jennelle Dupuy 63 responses in the members' forum

Cheesy Ham and Corn Muffins

I make these Cheesy Ham and Corn muffins, which are delicious and at only $0.44 each to make, give me and my family something tasty, cheap and healthy in our lunchboxes. They are yummy cold, or heated up in the microwave.

Makes 12

Ingredients:
1 x 310g can of corn (reserve can for measuring)
½ cup reduced fat milk (1/2 ‘can’)
2 eggs
2 cups of self raising flour - I use wholemeal (2 ‘cans’)
Pinch of salt
2 cups reduced fat grated Australian cheese (2 ‘cans’)
2 slices ham, cut into strips
2 teaspoons English mustard

Method:

Whisk together corn, milk and eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.
Spoon mixture into non-stick ½ cup muffin tray.
Bake at 200c for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

by: Spud 43 responses in the members' forum

A lesson in responsibility

I've saved money and taught my daughter a valuable skill at the same time.

My twelve year old daughter has a passion for fashion, but little realisation that everything costs money. It seemed that every time I went shopping, there would always be something my daughter just had to have. It can be difficult determining if a request for something new is a necessity or not, so to stop myself sounding like the 'no police', I put the decisions back on my daughter.

I opened up a bank account in her name, with a key card attached. I worked out how much per year I would need to spend on her clothing, including shoes and accessories, but not school uniforms. I divided the yearly cost by 12 and I now deposit her monthly clothing allowance on the first of every month.

My daughter was so excited to have her own key card, and new responsibility. I did have to explain that when winter approached she would have to have enough money saved for new winter clothes and that she couldn't just spend her entire allowance every month.

Now, when we go shopping and asked 'Can I have one of those?' my answer is, 'Sure, can you afford it.' I am amazed at how many times something is picked up off the shelf as something she just has to have, yet we end up leaving the shop without it. And, I'm thrilled that I no longer have to be the one who says 'no'.

It has only been a few months but I have already saved a small fortune and my daughter is learning how to budget.

by: Josey99 24 responses in the members' forum