Most Popular Hints

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Here are the ten highest voted hints from the Vault:

A wee piece of good advice

Toilet cleaning, deodorising and water conservation has never been easier.

You can kill three birds with one stone by piercing a few holes through the lid of a bottle of vinegar and putting the bottle in your toilet cistern. The weight of the bottle displaces the water meaning you use less water with each flush. The vinegar will slowly seep out, leaving your loo smelling nice and making cleaning easier. When the bottle is empty, simply refill it with homemade vinegar which is simply half a bottle of cheap white vinegar topped with rainwater. Leave for 24 hours and it will be full strength and ready to use.

Now, if we could only get men to leave the toilet seat down...

by: Kelly Patrick 32 responses in the members' forum

$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.

by: Chris Floyd 231 responses in the members' forum

$13 mince mix makes base for 7 meals

This super basic mince recipe saves me up to $100 a month on takeaways, thanks to the convenience of having meals already 'half made'.

All you need are:
2kg minced beef
2 cups of red lentils
2 tbsp of vegetable stock powder, or four vegetable stock cubes
1 tsp dried garlic granules
1 dsp dried onion flakes
4 cups of water.

Place all the ingredients into a crockpot and cook on high for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes. It should be thick, aromatic and an unattractive brown colour (don't let this worry you!).

One batch costs just $13 to make and is enough to serve as a base for seven meals for our family (two children and two adults). This saves heaps of money and time too. I usually freeze the mince in margarine tubs, as that seems to be the right amount for one meal for our family.

The meals I made are:

  1. Piemaker pies.
    Allow one heaped tablespoon of basic mince per pie. Pour the mince into a small saucepan and add a large spoonful of gravy powder, or a dessertspoon of cornflour and some Vegemite for colour. Heat and stir until thickened. Spoon into pastry cases and cook in the piemaker.

  2. Mexican enchiladas.
    I use Mountain Bread or make my own crepes. Lay the bread or crepes in u-shapes in a large baking dish. Mix the mince with an equal amount of tinned or home-made refried beans. Spread the mixture in a sausage shape down the middle of each crepe, fold each side of the crepe over, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake at 180C until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve on a bed of rice, topped with natural yoghurt and some salsa.

  3. Stuffed capsicums.
    Halve enough capsicums for half or one per person. Spoon the mince straight into the capsicums, top with some mashed potato, pumpkin or sweet potato. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 40 mins at 180C. Kids love these as the capsicum sweetens when baked.

  4. Baked spuds with topping.
    Allow one potato of appropriate size per person. Cook in the microwave according to manufacturer's instructions. Split a cross in the top and pile filling into the opening. Top with natural yoghurt or sour cream and chopped, sauteed bacon. Allow one large tablespoon of filling per potato. Mix the filling with one tin of baked beans and heat in a small saucepan before pouring on to the potatoes.

  5. Spring rolls.
    Mix about four tablespoons of mince mixture with a packet of cooked and cooled Two Minute Noodles, some shredded carrot, and 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice. Using filo pastry sheets or spring roll wrappers, fold a small handful of filling into each spring roll. Spray liberally with cooking spray and bake at 180C for 20-30 mins.

  6. Greek pasta bake (Pastito).
    Heat a container of mince mixture with a 400g tin of peeled tomatoes. Cook enough macaroni for your family and drain well. Mix with the meat mixture and spoon into a large baking dish and top with your favourite white sauce or cheese sauce. Sprinkle on some grated cheese and bake for 40 minutes at 200C.

  7. Shepherds pie.
    Add any vegetables of your choice to the mince mixture. Place into a baking dish and top with mashed potato, pumpkin or sweet potato then bake until heated and the potato browns.

by: Mimi 83 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 19 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

Chemical-free toilet bowl freshener

This simple tip saves money on toilet cleaners and air fresheners! A cheap and easy way to keep the toilet clean and smelling fresh is to make your own antibacterial spray. I have a spray bottle on the window sill filled with water and a few drops of tea tree oil. After each flush, we spray two or three squirts in the toilet bowl and close the lid. It keeps the room smelling lovely and our toilet sparkling clean without yucky chemicals.

by: Spud 9 responses in the members' forum

Less time at supermarket for richer lifestyle

Watching my 'non-Simple Savings' sister unpack her groceries this week made me realise how much my shopping habits have changed in the year since I discovered Simple Savings. I used to love supermarket shopping, wandering the aisles for hours, one of this, one of that.

Some products I just don't buy anymore include:

  • Liquid handsoap - I now make my own (my first SS project from the Vault). Saves $40/year.

  • Spray and cooking oil - I buy 4L of good olive oil on special for about $20 and use a refillable hand pumped spray container (from House, $15 - will last years). I used to buy cans of olive oil spray at about $3.50 each and by changing how I buy oil, I am saving $100 per year.

  • Cleaning products - are now missing from my list - we use bi-carb and vinegar and other simple Vault tips.

  • Dishwashing cleaner - has gone too. We use citric acid, which I normally keep for my yearly lemon cordial making.

  • Soft drinks and cordials - are rarely bought now - we use juice as you would cordial, and have changed our habits in favour of water.

  • Yoghurt - we make EasiYo using packets bought in bulk from GoldenGlow online. Saves about $150 a year.

  • Eggs and vegies - in the back yard!

  • Condensed milk, Yogo, cake and pancake mixes - we M.O.O. ('make our own') using Vault tips.

  • Icypoles - M.O.O. using tinned fruit juice or other - search the Vault!

  • Magazines - I never buy new, just pick up the free supermarket recipe brochures or occasionally buy some gardening ones from the op shop.

  • Junk and pre-prepared foods - we buy a lot less in favour of having our own 'sausage roll make-athons' or other baking with the kids.

As well as noticing the presence of many of the above things in my sister's shopping, I also noticed she buys small quantities of lots of items I now buy in bulk. Each week she has to mentally or physically check if she 'needs another of...', where I buy large amounts from the supermarket and other cheaper sources - and then don't need to think about it again for at least six months. These types of products include:

Washing powder (I'll never buy less than 20kg, and with the Vault advice to reduce our amount per load, this is lasting ages!), teabags, coffee, shampoo, dog and chook food (from pet supplier every six months), ham and meats(buy large piece of ham and store in ham bag per Vault tip - saves at least $50 a year over my previous habit of buying little cute packets of 50g each), bacon (buy from ALDI and freeze), dishwashing powder (ALDI brand is MUCH cheaper than the Finish tablets we were using - saves us $150 a year at least. I buy 12 months supply on one of my ALDI runs), cheese (buy larger amounts less often and freeze if necessary), rice (10kg bag much cheaper), jelly crystals (I bought 5kg bag at IGA last week - makes 20 serves for same cost as three individual packets), tinned fruit, soup, tomatoes and other products (from SPC outlet), nappies, paper towel and toilet paper (I buy lots when on a fabulous special). Fruit and veg I buy from the greengrocer, the market or grow my own. Meat is from the butcher, chicken from the poultry shop and fish from the fishmonger once every three months.

I could go on for every grocery item - nearly everything has changed in 12 months. This is even without noting the savings from changing products - for example, I used to think myself very clever if I bought my Uncle Toby's quick oats on super special for $2.00 per kg box - until I discovered I can buy Home Brand, which I cannot fault, for $1.00 a kilo all the time. Same for most basic products.

With changes like these to my grocery shop and to our home loan, insurance, shopping habits and so on, Simple Savings has saved us thousands of dollars in our first year of membership. Our lifestyle has actually been RICHER since SS. I didn't set out to change my shopping habits - I just started by making handsoap and buying Home Brand porridge oats - but suddenly I have realised how large this change has been. If I see you at the supermarket with your milk, bread, 8 large packets of toilet paper, 6kg of the super special meat, 10kg of rice and three-litre containers of vinegar, I'll know you caught the bug too!

by: Allison 13 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

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!

by: K.L 44 responses in the members' forum

Dishcloth keeps vegetables fresh

We buy our vegetables every week at our local Sunday market. Occasionally, we fail to get through all the produce by the end of the week, and we're left with some sad looking vegetables in the fridge. I just hate waste!
We've found that putting a Chux dishcloth, or any absorbent dishcloth, in the bottom of our veggie drawers makes a huge difference. It absorbs any moisture from the bottom of the drawer, and leaves our vegetables fresh and crisp for a whole lot longer. Every week, we wipe the drawer, throw the dishcloth in the wash and replace it with a new one for another week of fresh, crisp vegetables. By doing this, we save around $7.00 per week!

by: Lil 28 responses in the members' forum