"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - December 2004

This issue includes:-

  1. Sad Sally and Happy Hanna: A tale of two cars
  2. Christmas gifts under $1
  3. Huge bargains at January sales
  4. From last month: Buying direct from China
  5. Help needed: Savings in Tasmania
  6. Savings story: How to get huge discounts
  7. What is the Savings Vault?


Merry Christmas! I hope you are having a fantastic month. Thank you for supporting us this year. You have been a great help. It is your support that has made this website a really cool place. Every time someone sends in an email thanking us for helping them they are also thanking you.

"I am delighted with the savings I have made from Priceless Pets. What a fantastic saving tip from your website, and many thanks to whoever shared it with us all in the first place." (Vicki Moulds)

"I am very happy with the tips on your website and have been surprised by the many ways to save money that have been worked out by so many people. I have used the tips on printer ink replacements etc. and saved more than my subscription cost in the process." (Derek Crowhurst)

"Thanks to your newsletters and Internet site, I have cut corners and have saved enough to purchase my first home - just last week. It only took me eight months to save the fees needed. (I got a cheap house from a relative.) I never dreamed I would be able to own my own home, but thanks to the many ingenious ideas you have and the constant motivation you provide I have." (Clare Burns)

"Thank you so much for providing this service. Since I began subscribing to the Simple Savings newsletter, I have managed to save $5,200 each year by not smoking cigarettes. I have set up Bpay to pay a certain amount each week off my Telstra and Country Energy accounts and therefore don't have to search for money every time a bill comes in. As a family we now work to a strict entertainment and pleasure budget each week. Thank you for being so inspiring." (Rhonda Jessup)

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Many grins,
Fiona Lippey
Miser Extraordinaire

1. Sad Sally and Happy Hanna - A tale of two cars

Sad Sally and Happy Hanna both rocked up to a friend's New Years Eve party in beat-up old Ford Lasers. Sad Sally said, 'I'm so sick of my car'. Happy Hanna grinned and said 'Yeah. I could do with a new one. I might make it my New Year's resolution.'

The next week, back at work, Sad Sally parked next to Happy Hanna's old bombie Laser in a brand new Mazda 3. Sad Sally jumped out of the car. 'Taa daa! I did it. I achieved my New Year's resolution.' Happy Hanna said, 'Wow! That was quick. How did you do it?'

'I went for a test drive and fell in love with it. They provided the finance and everything - a One Stop Shop. It was so easy. Just $130 per week.' The thing Sally didn't do was work out how much it really cost. She has to pay $130 per week for five years. That is a total of $33,800, for a $24,390 car!

All year Sad Sally gloated about her new car. Every time she saw Happy Hanna in her beat-up, but reliable Laser, she said, 'Go on. Get finance. It's easy.' Happy Hanna patiently looked at her and said, 'No thanks. I'm saving up. In the New Year I set up an automatic savings account. I'll have the money to buy a car by December.'

The year flew by as years do, and December came around. Sad Sally was so stressed. She sat down at her desk and all she could think about was how she was going to pay for everyone's presents. 'I am already working overtime. Don't tell me I am going to have to work on Christmas Day. My husband is going to be upset. What will I do?' Happy Hanna sat down at her desk - she was having a great day. All of her presents were at home wrapped in a box. She had just paid cash for a Mazda pretty similar to Sad Sally's. It was three years old and had cost her $13,000. She still had lots of money left to enjoy the holiday season.

So, once again, Sad Sally cried on Happy Hanna's shoulder. 'Oh, Hanna. I'm going to have to work on Christmas Day. Will you be here with me?' Hanna said, 'No. I'm sorry.' But she was thinking, 'No Sally. I'm having the day off. I earned it.'

Yet again, Sad Sally had made her life unnecessarily stressful. Sad Sally paid an extra $9,410 for her car because she fell into the salesperson's trap. Now she is going to have to work an extra six months just to pay for her car. And she is going to be the only person in the office working on Christmas Day.

On Christmas morning, Happy Hanna sat down with her family, looked out the window and said to her husband, 'My love, look at our new car. Can you believe we did it? We saved up and we paid cash for it. I'm so proud of us. What a fantastic year!'

Who are you most like? Hanna or Sally? Which person would you like to be?

2. Christmas gifts under $1

Remember, Simple Savings has a great selection of presents you can print out and give to people for under $1. All you need is a copy of Acrobat Reader. If you don't have it, you can download it for free at: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

30 Free 'I promise to' vouchers

There are 30 free vouchers for you to print and give to your loved ones.

The first 10 are ideal to give to your partner or family members. They say, when you give someone this voucher, 'I promise to ... fix the computer', '... babysit for an evening', '... do the shopping', '... bake a cake', '... vacuum the house', '... defrost the fridge', '... clean the toilet', '... cook you dinner', '... fix your clothes', '... call once a week'.

The second 10 are the kind you would give to your mum. We have improved the vouchers from last Mother's Day so you can now give them to anyone at any time of the year.

The third 10 are a perfect present for your dad. We have modified the vouchers from last Father's Day so they are now great gifts for grandparents and siblings as well as dad.

To view or download any of the vouchers go to:

Free tips sheets

If any of your friends are about to move house, struggling with their grocery bills or about to get married or have a baby, they will really enjoy the Simple Savings tip sheets: 'How to Host a Garage Sale', 'Beginners Guide to Aldi', 'Tricks for the Supermarket', 'Tips for a Beautiful and Affordable Wedding' and 'Shopping Tips for New Mothers'. They are great to pop in Christmas cards or to add to an existing gift.

To view or download any of the tip sheets go to:

Simple Savings Calendar 2005

There is also the Simple Savings calendar filled with tips that you can print out and give to people to help make 2005 a better year. To view or download the calendar go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/freestuff/calendar2005.pdf

3. Huge bargains at January sales

Try to snaffle away some extra money this Christmas so you can take advantage of the January sales and make next year even easier.

Discounted decorations

The best way I have found to save money on Christmas decorations is to be patient, wait until after Christmas, and get them at a 75-80 percent discount. Just make sure that the box you store them in is well marked otherwise they will be lost for a couple of Christmases!

Contributed by: Jane Saker

Buy Christmas items at sales

Last year, I stocked up on Christmas wrapping paper, gift tags, napkins, paper plates, decorations, bon-bons, and other great 'Christmassy' stuff - all at half price and below! I have saved a fortune, and this Christmas I don't have to buy any of these items. It's hard to find the money after Christmas to do this, but if you incorporate some of it into your grocery shopping, and sacrifice some of the goodies that you would normally buy, you can do it and it really is worth it.

The bargain and $2 shops (e.g. Dollars & Sense, Crazy Clarkes, etc.) are especially good for all of these items once Christmas is over. And it will feel great come November next year when you know that all these items have already been bought!

Contributed by: Alison McKechnie

Buy Christmas lights at sales

Getting in late pays off! Last year I bought Christmas lights for about a quarter of their retail price one week after Christmas. With the present craze for lights, K-Mart and Target are usually overstocked after Christmas.

Contributed by: Mark McDonald

Buy paper and cards for next Christmas

Every year, straight after Christmas, I go to K-Mart and Target, even Coles and Safeway, and purchase all the wrapping paper and cards I will need for the next Christmas. They are usually discounted by at least 50 percent and sometimes even more. Last year I purchased packs of 16 cards for 50 cents and packs of five rolls of wrapping paper for around 75 cents.

All up, I would have spent less than $10 for enough paper and cards to get me through this Christmas, with probably some left over for next year. I keep them with my Christmas tree and decorations so I don't forget where I stored them.

Contributed by: Debbie Lowden

4. From last month: Buying direct from China

Last month Caroline Shaw asked:

"I found a great site called www.made-in-china.com where you can buy goods direct from the factory, but I'm too scared to try them. Has anyone ever tried buying goods direct from China? How did it go? Are there any companies or sites you would recommend. Many, many thanks."

What you are promised is not always what you receive

I am an importer from China and spend three months there each year. I ship over 20 containers annually. Whilst there are many sites for buying direct from China, unfortunately what is promised on the websites and what actually eventuates are two different things. One of the greatest disadvantages is the sheer volume you must buy, plus freight costs and red tape. Most factories require that you buy huge quantities and unfortunately you may also find yourself dealing with switched-on individuals who speak English trying to make a quick buck. The other disadvantage that we have found is quality; once you buy something and it is faulty, you cannot get it fixed and it can work out extremely costly.

Consult Customs for information

Before purchasing goods via the Internet, make sure you check out the Australian Customs website (www.customs.gov.au) and follow the links to 'Importing goods', 'Buying over the Internet', or call the Customs Information and Support Centre on 1300 363 263.

When your goods arrive in Australia, they may be subject to Customs controls. This means that duty and GST may be payable on them. Also, an item may be prohibited and require an import permit, or the goods may not be allowed into the country under any circumstances and may be seized by Customs for destruction.

5. Help needed: Savings in Tasmania

This month Tanya Bond asked:

"Tasmania was recently shown to have the highest cost of groceries and petrol out of every other state. Are there any general ways of living more cheaply in Tasmania that your members could help with, e.g. bargains on petrol, groceries, etc.? How do others get by with such high prices? Unleaded is 117 cents, LPG is 65 cents, and groceries seem to go up almost every week for no reason."

If you can help Tanya, we would love to hear from you. Submit your suggestions at: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints

6. Savings story: How to get huge discounts

This month we received a fantastic story about how to get amazing discounts. It has loads of detail but unfortunately it is too long for the newsletter (over three pages), but we really want to share it with everyone. So here is a shortened version and the full story is under 'General -> Discounts -> Shortcut to the lowest price' in the Savings Vault.

Shortcut to the lowest price

I have a way to save money on 99.9 percent of items. I learnt it when I was a purchasing officer with a large manufacturing company. I also worked as a salesman in the electrical appliance industry for six years. You can use it to buy little things like electrical appliances or major purchases like cars and furniture.

Just last week my mother-in-law was renovating her kitchen and needed a new double oven/microwave combo, ceramic cooktop, rangehood and dishwasher. My trick saved her $900.

What I do whenever I am about to make any major purchase is to gather a list of at least six retailers in my local area, and look up (or call them and ask) their fax numbers.

With the model numbers in hand write a generic quote request and fax it off to those suppliers. It only took me around 30 minutes to draft up a letter and 30 minutes sending the faxes.

The key to getting large discounts is the way you write the quote request letter. The salesperson needs to believe you are a serious buyer. (See the sample letter which we have placed in the Vault: 'General -> Discounts -> Shortcut to the lowest price'.

The reason this technique works is that most salespeople will give you their rock bottom price straight up, as they are only given one chance to win your business. They are afraid if they don't quote you a good price another store out there will quote lower - and that is definitely true.

Be wary of ridiculously low quotes. What happens quite regularly is that salespeople who know you are shopping on price will quote under cost, but when you go to the store to order the goods the salesperson might say something along the lines of "Oops, it looks like I made a mistake on the pricing. Sorry about that. What was the best price you received other than mine?"

I ended up getting a price of $4,220 for my mother-in-law, which was close to a saving of $900 on the RRP. That wasn't a bad result as this was at the beginning of the month when salespeople are normally more wary about giving away too many low deals. If you are not in a rush to get your appliances, the best time to buy is during the last trading week of the month or even the last trading day of the month. Sometimes salespeople only get paid commission and bonuses if they have reached their monthly targets and will often sell at cost or close to cost just to reach them.

7. What is the Savings Vault?

The Savings Vault is our paid members area. It costs $47 per year and it is chock full of saving hints. Joining the Vault will give you more control. If you want to start learning how to lower your electricity bill, you can go to that section of the Vault this evening rather than have to wait till we include a hint on electricity in the newsletter. To give you an idea of how many topics the Savings Vault covers, here is a link to the preview page: /vault/?preview=1

To order a Savings Vault membership right away: Click here.

If you have encountered a problem with our newsletter, please email me. I will give your comments immediate attention.

© 2004 AL Consulting Pty Ltd. This publication may be freely redistributed if copied in its entirety. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted with written permission.