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

This issue includes:-

  1. Watching pennies brings freedom
  2. Never pay retail for clothes
  3. Dining discounts
  4. NEW: Free tip sheets Groceries
  5. Brown bag lunch saving ideas
  6. From last month: Purchasing film and developing costs
  7. Special help request: Yeppoon/Rockhampton hints
  8. This month's help request: Online clothes shopping
  9. Savings story: Happiness is living within your means


How are you doing? It has been a great month. Baby Jacqueline is unbelievably fat. I'm so proud of her. Sam is almost back to full health and once again our house is filled with laughter.

We love Sam's giggles and we love running Simple Savings for you. Your letters are beautiful.

"To Simple Savings - I really enjoy your newsletter every month. It's hard to wait for the next one because I get so interested. I've read all the back issues and can't wait to see what comes next. Keep up the great work." (Beverly Allen)

"As a pensioner I really appreciate all the good advice given in the newsletters. I particularly loved the hint for putting the panty hose on the door stoppers, which I have done for front and back doors. As I live in the Blue Mountains where it can get very cold it was a very timely hint." (Joy Hart)

"I cannot believe the different ways your newsletter helps me to save money. I can really tell that you care and that this newsletter is not a business for you but a helping hand to us out here that need it. I plan on going home and starting a vegie garden this weekend. I'm so excited. Thank you for all your help." (Kim May)

"Just want to write a big Thumbs Up, and thank you for the info on Telstra pensioner discounts. I rang to enquire and it turns out I am eligible, and will save $150 (approx) a year. I will be sure to tell everyone I know about the discounts (and where I heard about them). I look forward to reading more ways to save money. Thanks Simple Savings and keep up the great work." (Heather Bunton)

"I just wanted to thank you for providing a wonderful (and much needed) web site. It has been a real source of inspiration for me over the past year since becoming a stay-at-home-mum. Thanks again." (Philisity Dryden)

Have a fantastic month!
Many grins,

1. Watching pennies brings freedom

Watching our pennies gives us spare cash when we really need it. We can cover unexpected bills without flinching, or when I'm at my friend's house and they've been having a bad week, it is nice to be able to offer to buy take-away. Once you have learnt how to lower your bills you will have more spare money and more freedom. Reading these newsletters is a great place to start learning, but if you want it all now join our members' area, the 'Savings Vault' and make the effort to change your habits. It's not how much money you make that's important. It's how much you keep. The Savings Vault will help you keep your money.

If you want to check out the Vault, but are afraid it is something you may never use, we have a 'no questions asked' refund policy. You have a full year to ask for your money back. We want you to get excellent value in everything you buy.

To become a member go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/

2. Never pay retail for clothes

Anyone who pays full price for their wardrobe is a fool. That may sound harsh, but there are so many ways to save you are silly to pay full price. Here are some tips to save you thousands. If you want to know more there are another 110 clothing tips in the Vault.

1626's sale racks

Being a big girl, smart clothes are normally hard to find and usually pricey. 1626 normally have a rack of out of season garments reduced from $50 to $10. Every time I walk into the Epping (VIC) store I can usually pick up a shirt, skirt, pants or a top.

Contributed by: Ivana Cookson

Five new outfits for the price of one

At the end of a season you will often find that stores have the end of season clothes at a discounted price. The saving can be even greater if your shopping trip is timed with the store's advertised specials.

For example, I bought five summer outfits in autumn from Target at a discount price thanks to the end-of-season reduction. By shopping when the children's clothes were on special this price was reduced by a further 20 percent. This meant I paid an average of $4 per garment instead of $20. That was a saving of $80 for the five garments. There was a good selection of styles and sizes, so now my daughter (turning one) has her summer wardrobe waiting for her at a fraction of the price. Kmart and Big W also have a large range of end-of-season stock that is well worth a look.

Contributed by: Jocelyn Allen

Saving over $100 by buying a larger size

Children grow so fast, particularly babies. My daughter's true size is 00 but I have bought her size 0 because at the rate she is growing I would have had to replace her winter wardrobe soon. By putting her in slightly larger clothing she gets more wear out of the clothes than if I had purchased the perfect size. Pants legs and sleeves can be easily rolled up. I believe I have saved over $100 by going to the larger size. I also do the same for my son when he needs new clothes.

Contributed by: Sam Webster

Better clothes from St Vincent de Paul depot

I have found that most people like St Vinnies shopping. The depot in each region is where most goods are donated and sorted then farmed out to other shops. It usually has cheaper prices to clear the backlog of donated goods. Books at most stores are $5 to $10 but at the Brookvale depot in Sydney, books are 50 cents to $1. I got a good child's book for my two-year-old with five stories in it for 50 cents. I have seen one of the stories in the shops for $13 a book. To find out where your local depot is call your local store and ask them. It will take five minutes.

Contributed by: Mark McDonald

Converting big spenders into clever shoppers

My husband has always been a 'happy spender' and continually buys impulse items that he doesn't really need. But since we have been married and now have a daughter, money is tighter than ever and it has become obvious that money has to be carefully budgeted.

I showed my husband that he can still present a professional image without spending the cash. Here's how: Find a factory outlet or discount shop and buy him an outfit that looks great (one that you know he will love) at a cheap price and give it to him as a gift. Once he has fallen in love with the outfit, tell him how little it actually cost - he will be surprised. This token will help to show him that he can look fantastic on a budget.

I also took my husband 'op shop' browsing to introduce him to the world of bargains! He was surprised at the quality of clothes available for such discount prices. It really changed his perspective on shopping. It took a little time but he slowly stopped 'impulse buying' and we agreed to talk to each other about any items we wanted to buy and to think about purchases overnight. This gives us time to decide whether we really need the item.

Contributed by: Leanne Swinn

Saving on last season's fashions

If you keep up with current fashions you will probably have noticed that nowadays many women wear lower cut skirts and pants - hipsters - as they can be more flattering. I was recently at a Sportsgirl clearance store trying on reduced items which were the previous season's styles and therefore high waisted. In the process I tried on a skirt that was actually a couple of sizes too big for me. I found that it sat just above my hips and as it was a draped kind of material looked just like the current fashion. It was $12, reduced from $30. With that in mind I went to other shops and checked the clearance racks for skirts that were too big for me but would fit me as hipsters. Not all of the fabrics worked - some of them did just look too big and didn't sit right, but I did find another skirt that was brand new. While I don't know how much it was originally, I would estimate at least $30 as it is corduroy with buttons down the front. I paid $2 for it! Just with those two skirts, I saved at least $46.

So if you're keen on trying to find skirts with the lower waist style that is in fashion, but don't want to pay full price, you could try checking clearance stores and last season's racks. Even op shops would probably have clothes that would work and look just like current styles.

Contributed by: Michelle Carthew

3. Dining discounts

It is useful to learn which restaurants in your area sell good food at a great price so if you choose to eat out it won't cost you a fortune. Here is a list of restaurants that readers have recommended. If none of these restaurants are in your area, ask your hairdresser where the senior citizens usually go for lunch and you're bound to uncover a great deal.

Share a Subway sandwich

I bought my lunch at Subway the other day and my daughter and I were going to order the same sandwich. I was looking at ordering two six inch sandwiches and it occurred to me that if I ordered a twelve inch sandwich and had it cut in half I would certainly save money and I did. So find a friend with a yearning for the same taste as you and you can save around two dollars on your Subway lunch.

Contributed by: Jan Aitchison

Buy hot chips from fish and chips shop

If you want hot chips, try an independent fish and chip shop rather than buying them from a large chain. You pay around $2.95 for large chips at a fast food outlet (has anyone else noticed that their chip boxes are smaller than they used to be), while $3 worth of chips from a fish and chip shop is enough to feed the whole family.

Contributed by: Tania Rodrigues

Cheap meals in Perth

Try Govinda's Restaurant for vegetarian meals that taste great. They're at 200 William Street, Northbridge, WA; phone (08) 9227 1684. They are just before the Horseshoe Bridge when travelling towards Perth. You can have all you can eat for $6 ($5 concession). They are open Monday to Friday from 12 pm to 2.30 pm and from 5 pm to 6 pm; try takeaway for just $2!

Contributed by: Stephen Khoo

Dining out in country towns

The cheapest and often nicest way to dine out in a country town where the choices are severely limited is to eat in a Chinese restaurant. And the most 'bang for your buck' is a large special fried rice (usually enough for two) priced around $7, and Jasmine or Chinese tea, which is served in a teapot and usually costs around $1.

They have air conditioning or heating, nice toilets and the fried rice is far superior in quality (taste, variety within the ingredients, even quantity) in comparison with specialist take-away Chinese places that generally serve smorgasbord style.

A perfect example is the Dragon Inn and The Wok in Warrnambool. Run by the same family, the restaurants are next door to each other. The Wok sells only take-aways. The Dragon Inn is a proper restaurant, and yes, you can order take-away, but the prices are around the same and the Dragon Inn is far superior (see points already listed).

You'd be working hard to get through one pot of tea, and with the cheque, they bring each customer (including children) a hot, moist cloth towel and an after-dinner mint chocolate or a jaffa flavoured chocolate. Yummo!

Contributed by: Leonie Edge

Truckstop 31

On the freeway just North of Goulburn, at Truckstop 31, Marulan, they serve huge, reasonably-priced, nutritious meals. One $2 bag of chips easily feeds two normal adults or one adolescent male. As a bonus, petrol is generally 2 or 3 cents cheaper per litre than the big BP station just down the road.

East Sydney TAFE's dining experience

Last night I took a group of 30 people out for a delicious four course meal for $25 per head. This also included beverages; champagne, red and white wine and of course soft drinks. Not possible you say? Well, quite possible.

We attended East Sydney TAFE's Colonial Dining Room, where tomorrow's chefs are in training. A lot of big names in the food industry trained on these premises. The trainee chefs cook up a storm and the trainee waitresses and waiters attend to your every need. I've heard that some people have had their wedding receptions in the dining room. It is a training centre not an a la carte restaurant so you eat what is being served on the night. There are usually two to three choices of each meal. The food is five star and would cost $100 per head in a restaurant. The downside is that it is only available on certain days, mid week for lunch and dinner, and you must book a long way ahead as they are popular with groups raising money for charities.

To find your nearest TAFE restaurant call your TAFE's main reception and ask for the details. If your local TAFE doesn't do it they should be able to tell you which ones do. Bon Appetit!

Contributed by: Joanne McDonald

Families catered for at steakhouse in Narellan

Stockmans Steakhouse & Bar in Narellan, New South Wales, allows children under four years to eat for free every day. They also offer a 10 percent discount on your bill if you finish your dinner and leave before 7 pm. The meals are really big - you don't need to have an entree and a main.

Contributed by: Samantha Price

If you know of a great, well-priced restaurant. Please tell us by going to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/. Let's give great restaurants the free publicity they deserve.

4. NEW Free tip sheets: Groceries

There is a fantastic new tip sheet to help you lower your grocery bill. It has some great tricks in it. To view it go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/tipsheets/

This brings the total number of tip sheets to five. Below is the complete list of tip sheets.

Tips for a beautiful and affordable wedding

This sheet is full of ideas to help keep your wedding budget under control. If you spend too much on your wedding it could put pressure on your new marriage.

Beginners' guide to Aldi

This guide will make your first trip to Aldi a lot easier. It also lists some products our readers have tried.

Shopping tips for new mothers

This will help new mums save loads of money in the first year of their child's life. I saved over $6,000. The numbers add up very quickly.

How to host a garage sale

Spring is a great time for garage sales. This guide will help you to run a smooth and profitable garage sale.

Get these free tip sheets at: www.simplesavings.com.au/tipsheets/

5. Brown bag lunch saving ideas

A really simple way to save $600 a year is to pack your own lunch. Over a 30-year career, you'll save nearly $20,000. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Freeze sandwiches for the week

I do my shopping on a Sunday to save time (not many shoppers) and to save money (lots of things marked down). In years gone by I made up lunches on a day-by-day basis. Now I come home from shopping, make all the sandwiches for the week (this only works for meat, cheese, vegemite, jam, etc., not salad) and put them in the freezer. (My son likes me to make him mini-pizzas from muffins, tomato paste, diced ham and cheese, and these freeze really well.) I also pack snacks such as biscuits in bags and put them in a separate container in the cupboard.

This saves me money because I buy exactly the amount of filling needed for all sandwiches, so nothing goes off by the end of the week. I'm not rushing out to buy more supplies in the middle of the week because someone has eaten the week's lunch fillings, and the kids/spouses can pack their own lunch in the morning while I'm spending a little more time in the bathroom.

The mini-pizzas are a great money saver. You can buy a pack of eight English muffins for $2.25 at Bi-Lo (16 pieces when split), a one kilogram roll of devon at Bi-Lo for around $2.50 (you need less than one-fifth of this for 10 halves) and tomato paste (Bi-Lo, of course, for around $1.20). You only need around two tablespoons of this plus some shredded cheese. The total cost for the mini-pizza is around 48 cents. Compare this to approximately $1.25 for a frozen mini-pizza.

I also make up dishes such as soup, lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise and casseroles and divide them into meal sizes to freeze. I usually have at least one portion left over per item so that gets frozen separately for a nice snack to take to work for reheating.

Contributed by: Janine Donoghue

Pre-package homemade snacks for lunch

Making snacks for the kids' school lunches is easy, cheap and tasty. On the weekend I send hubby away with the children and have some fun in the kitchen.

Last Saturday I made a cinnamon cookie sheet cake, an apple slice and some chocolate chip cookies - all within a day and around some other chores. I kept the oven on and used the same bowl and same beaters. I washed the cake tin each time so that I could re-grease it.

I froze the entire selection of pre-cut baked goods on styrofoam trays and every morning while the children ate breakfast I asked them what they wanted in their play lunch that day.

A simple trip to the freezer to choose the items and everyone was deliriously happy! My husband had his own selection in the fridge - MOST IMPORTANT!

At the end of the week the novelty of selection was exhausted and the children wanted something else! Did we hit the school canteen - NO WAY!

Hey presto - a huge tin of mango divided into play lunch containers with a plastic fork attached had everyone smiling.

Organisation and flexibility will keep you from dipping into your precious savings! This Saturday I plan to make an orange cake, chocolate chip muffins and date caramel slice. I find that three items is enough variety.

Because I saved so much money making their snacks I can afford to send high-quality, usually organic fresh fruit with play lunch to balance out the nutritional needs. It is always eaten if I ask the child if it is what he/she wants that day. You know yourself what you feel like on any given day - it should work the same for our children.

Contributed by: Melinda Rau-Wig

Lunch bag creations

If you have any other suggestions for budget lunch ideas please submit them at: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/

6. From last month: Purchasing film and developing costs

Last month, Sue Watson asked:

"Photos provide such precious memories, so I've always purchased Kodak/Agfa films and had them developed by Kodak/Agfa. I don't want to risk losing those precious memories by purchasing poor quality film or using an unreliable lab for developing/printing. I am curious to know if there is a quality difference between brand names vs generics for film as well as processing labs."

We were flooded with responses and opinions varied. The main theme to your responses encouraged Sue to try several different types of film and processing outlets to find the right quality and dependable processing staff.

Ask for reprints if unhappy with quality

Some supermarkets, chemists and web locations use very reputable labs. Unfortunately the only way to know their quality is to test them and the staff. If you are not happy with your prints you should be able to get them reprinted, if the printing is the problem. In my experience a lot of prints can be made better than the first attempt. A reputable printer will redo prints without charge (for reasonable requests) especially if you get a relationship going. Also ask your friends if they are happy with the lab they use.

Contributed by: Robyn Ius

Check the use-by date on film

I have always used cheap film and processing options. I use my photos for scrapbooking and they are the same quality as the higher-priced versions. Just watch some places like Crazy Clark's who sometimes order big batches of stock that are close to expiry or out of date. I would not use out-of-date film but have never had a problem using cheap film or processing. The only difference is the price!

Contributed by: Lianne Hogno

Compare different processing outlets

If you are concerned about quality of processing, there is a difference based on what you pay. For example, using Kmart versus a proper Kodak shop can show a huge difference in quality of the photo in the richness of colours and picture clarity. You need to compare the processing in your area and make a judgement. It's not worth paying a couple of dollars less on processing to get less quality as this will not do justice to the photos and money spent on film, taking the pictures and processing. I seldom use Kmart as I find their quality is lower compared to the Kodak shop in my local shopping centre. However, if it is my six-year-old playing around with a basic camera I will use Kmart for processing. Just compare and see what you get from various outlets.

Contributed by: Doris Letoille

Generic brands just as good as quality films

Many of the homebrand films or cheaper films such as Kmart's generic brand are actually manufactured by companies like Fuji and Kodak. It pays to read the packaging. I used to do a lot of photography and I was able to purchase a four-roll pack of generic brand film for $9.95 which was in fact made by Fuji. The quality was just as good and it saved me hundreds of dollars every year.

Contributed by: Tina Stefanos

Research your local camera clubs

I am a very keen amateur photographer and a long-term member of a camera club. I find that Konica 100 speed film is very good and recently bought a four-pack from the Reject Shop for $8. I know a lot of our members use this brand and find it quite good value. I do think that processing is a different matter and I am very fussy about where my film is processed. I have found a Kodak shop which is quite good and well priced. I suggest contacting your local camera club for some friendly information on good local processing places. I am sure they will be happy to help you.

Contributed by: Philisity Dryden

Better value with bulk reprints

At Big W stores if you get ten or more reprints done at one time the cost reduces down to 46c a photo. Whereas for less than ten reprints, the cost is 76 cents a photo. So, therefore, you can in effect get four photos almost 'free' if you ask for ten reprints instead of, say, six ($4.70 for ten compared to $4.56 for only six). These extra photos are great for family and friends.

Contributed by: Melissa Baker

For more great hints about films and processing go to Recreation -> Photography -> in the Savings Vault.

7. Special help request: Yeppoon/Rockhampton hints

Lesley Baker had a special help request during this month:

"Does anyone know of cheap food items, furniture, free council plants/mulch etc., or any great hints specific to the Yeppoon/Rockhampton area? We are moving there shortly and would like to be well prepared."

Thank you to all the local residents who have contributed some helpful hints for Lesley.

Secondhand shops and garage sales

There are three or four secondhand shops in Yeppoon and numerous in Rockhampton. Local radio 4RO has a buy, sell, swap program free every Saturday morning till 11 and the key with the garage sales is to be early.

Contributed by: Karen Maker

Mulch and more

The Rockhampton City Council offers free mulch at their Northside dump on Lakes Creek Road. On Saturdays only, for a small fee ($7-$11) they will load it into your trailer for you, but if you don't mind shovelling for a while, you can have as much as you want for free! As far as cheap food items, the pickings are rather slim in Rockhampton unfortunately. There is a shop called Les Doblos and they have random food specials like cakes that are almost out of date and things like that which can save loads of money if you have a large freezer to stock up. They also have cheap biscuits, soft drink and fruit and vegies too. My suggestion would be to accept all the junk mail and keep an eye on their specials for things you are wanting/needing. Also, get the local paper as often as possible and keep up to date on what is happening in the area. Good luck with your move, hope things go smoothly!

Contributed by: Ali Mundy

Shopping for food at Doblos

There is a great shop in Rockhampton called Doblos. I'm not sure of its address but it is on the main road and hard to miss (I only get to go there when I visit my parents). They sell fruit and vegetables, meat and grocery items. Quite often the grocery items are out of date but still OK. My mother recently bought the LARGE can of fruit salad for $5. I simply froze it into smaller lots.

Contributed by: Leanne Rofe

Furniture and household items

It is possible to pick up cheap furniture, electrical and household items at Bob Heath's public auction at 191 Wade Street every second Saturday morning commencing at 10 am. Often they sell computers in good order too. The cheapest outlet that I have found selling food is Doblo's supermarkets both north and south sides of town. They regularly advertise the latest specials on television. We also have Woolies, Coles and Action supermarkets. I hope this will be of some use to you. Cheers.

Contributed by: Betty Turnley

8. This month's help request: Online clothes shopping

This month Leanne Thomas has asked:

"I need help from members for a list of Internet shops for children's and adult clothing. I am always searching the net to try to find online shops for kids clothes whether brand new or second hand and can't seem to find that many. I would also like details of overseas shops that will post to Australia for clothing (both adult and children) and toys. One of your hints mentions buying from America at their end-of-season sales and it is cheaper than buying here even when taking postage into consideration so I would like some Internet addresses for these shops please."

If you can help Leanne, go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/

9. Savings story: Happiness is living within your means

Since starting work 11 years ago I have kept my living cost at $25,000 per annum. The rest I put into various 'solid' investments for retirement. My closest friends now do a similar thing. At the same time, I still enjoy living in a nice house (I share with two others), travel OS twice a year (Virgin Blue, frequent flyer points and backpacking), eat out twice weekly (exotic Korean, Chinese, Lebanese, BYO, never more than $10-15 per person), read books (secondhand), eat well (purchase mostly non-processed groceries such as fresh fruit/vege), keep fit (jog around the bay, touch football with friends), keep educated (Spanish tapes/lessons, digital photography) and remain entertained ($10 movie vouchers, entertain at home, DVDs, cafes, parks, bushwalks).

You don't need much money to enjoy life. I always wondered how a $10,000 plasma TV could improve my life. Why go for fools' pleasure (consumer goods) when what you really want is real pleasure (time with family, travel, etc.)?

Lately, I have been able to save almost $20 per week on lunch at work by simply making my own. I make two weeks supply in one go and store them in the work freezer. Then I microwave a batch daily, simple as that! It's quicker than a trip to the canteen. The $960 per annum I save is enough for a month's spending money for my end-year holiday to exotic Latin America.

Contributed by: Paul L.

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.