"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - April 2012

This issue includes:-

  1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: World's Greatest Mum
  2. May is Toycott month!
  3. Hidden Gems Competition Winner
  4. Best Members' Blog: This Month's Winner
  5. Best of the Forum: Retail Therapy?
  6. Best of the Vault: Shiny, New Things
  7. Cooking with Mimi: Family Treat Night
  8. Penny's Blog: You Can't Take it With You
  9. Lin's Garden Diary: Bugging Out!
  10. Homeopathy Corner: Big Savings
  11. From Last Month: Kids' Clothes for Grown Ups?
  12. This Month's Help Request: Where Do I Start?
  13. Savings Story: Major Savings, Freedom, Freedom!
  14. Goodbye, Goodbye...


How are you going? It has been an interesting month in Simple Savings land. Something very strange indeed happened. Simple Savings members actually REQUESTED we put up our prices. Yes, it is true! So this is what we are going to do. We are going to increase the price to renew your Simple Savings Vault membership from $17 to $21 per year on the 30th of May. (The price of new memberships is still $47. It will not change.) However, we understand not every member wants their renewal fee to go up. So we are giving everyone the option to renew early for up to five years at the lower price of $17 until the 30th May.

If you would like to renew early, click here.

We have received some wonderful letters this month. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to write in. We love to hear of your success!

"I undertook the $21 Challenge two weeks ago and I am proud to say I was successful in my endeavour. I purchased broccoli, oranges, apples, milk, cheese and eggs for a grand total of $20.85. I normally spend $300 a week on groceries, so this was a huge saving for me and has helped me to think how to use what is in the pantry and replace ingredients in recipes for ones I already have! Thank you Simple Savings." (Heidi)

"I felt the need this morning to share with you how appreciative I am of this website, and in particular, the Forum. As I take stock of all the information I have got out of it, I realise that this site has been like a wise family member to me. I come on here for everything. It's my first port of call and I usually don't have to search anywhere else.
Thank you so much for all that this site has given me." (Alison)

"Just wanted to let you know I finally did the $21 Challenge last week and I finished the week with $3.00 to spare! We ate really well all week. The only items I had to buy were onions, mushrooms, a piece of pumpkin, a small amount of cheese and some fish. I feel really proud that I've finally done this and this week one of my work colleagues has been inspired to give it a go too!" (Linda James)

Thank you to everyone for their kind words this month. I really appreciate it.

All the best,

PS. If you want to renew early for less money. Click here.

1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: World's Greatest Mum

Sally couldn't help smiling as she got into her car. Today was going to be great! 'Toys R Fab' was having a massive sale and she was determined to be first in line. There was only one thing Sally loved more than buying new things for herself and that was buying new things for her kids - and today she could buy as much as she liked! She could picture the scene already this Christmas. 'My kids are going to think I'm the best mum in the world!' she thought to herself happily.

'Now promise me you won't go overboard,' Pete had told her that morning. 'You don't have to buy something just because it's on special you know'. 'Of course not!' Sally replied, rather miffed. 'I am simply being a smart consumer Peter. I've got my catalogue right here and I've already circled the things I need.' She waved it under his nose. 'Hmm, I'm not sure we NEED any more clutter in this place,' Pete said wryly, 'but at least you won't be paying full price for it I suppose!'

Sally had a ball. She got everything she had circled in the catalogue and much, much more. After all, everything was so cheap! She reached the checkout and smiled happily at all the other smart shoppers with their trolleys heaving, just like hers. 'That will be $862 please,' the cashier's voice jolted Sally into reality. Oops! She had only brought $300 cash with her. Not to worry, she could always use her credit card!

2. May is Toycott month!

Sally had been doing so well, until she fell into the trap that so many of us do - succumbing to the dreaded toy sales. Da, da, da, dumb!

It is a very easy trap to fall into. The annual toy sales have become a cultural phenomenon; everyone is doing it. It is so ingrained that we even had a note sent home from childcare one year asking parents not to drop their children off two hours early on the morning of the Target toy sales. They do not have enough staff to look after the influx.

The sheer volume of toys purchased is astounding! Last year I read a quote by Sally-Anne Newson, head of Big W online sales. She said that their goal was to sell more than three million toys in the sales. "That's two toys every second for 24 hours a day for 14 days". That is a LOT of money to spend on toys. And, it is a lot of unnecessary pressure placed on parents, families and mortgages!

The reason we spend so much money on toys is they are an emotional purchase. We buy them because we love our children. We also love the buzz we get from them smiling and saying "Thanks! You're the best!' One time when I bought some Lego for Jacqui, she was so excited she literally jumped up and down in circles around the store shouting 'Yippee!'. The buzz is so cool that I find myself looking for excuses to buy her new toys. It is this love that marketers use to manipulate us into buying truckloads of toys.

Many of you know that I originally trained as an industrial designer - but few know it was because I wanted to be a toymaker. I love toys! I love making children smile. But, as I gained insight into how the industry works, I started to rebel instead. I started asking, why? Why do we let the media and the toy stores whip parents into a frenzy when we know it is going to place more pressure on the family? These toy sales do NOT save people money. They are using our love for our children against us. We are being encouraged to spend our childrens' future on 'stuff'. Why do we let them do that to us?

Then I made a decision. I decided, I am not going to the toy sales this year. 'No way! No more! No how! I don't want to be herded towards the toy sale checkout. It is time for a Toycott!' There are better ways to get our children to smile and tell us that we are the best mum in the whole world. Like baking their favourite biscuits, listening to them, smothering them in kisses or reading them stories.

In this month's Toycott challenge, we want you to help us teach other parents ways to get their kids smiling that do not involve buying new toys. Tell us the fantastic things you have done which made your children grin. Then we will retell your stories to help and inspire others. Then everyone can get the emotional satisfaction of new toys - without having to buy any. Please write in and tell us, how how you made your child smile as if they had just received a cool new toy? The best four entries will win $50 each. To enter the competition click here.

If you DO find yourself wanting to buy things from the toy sales this year, please be cynical and read our eight steps for protecting your wallet. If you go to the toy sales with your guard down, marketers will take advantage of you.

Here is a link to the Eight Steps.

If you need extra support or someone to chat with, pop into our Forum. Good luck! We look forward to hearing all about those wonderful smiles!

3. Hidden Gems Competition Winner

Our Hidden Gems directory is designed to help members source the best deals in their area. Whenever you come across a real gem of a business, enter it in our Hidden Gems directory and you could be in the draw to win our monthly prize of $100 cash! This is our way of saying thank you for helping other members save by sharing your knowledge. The more information you can give us about your special store, the better.

This month's winner is The Fabric Cave at 78 Belmore Street, Ryde, New South Wales as nominated by Barb.

The Fabric Cave sells fabric remnants, buttons, knitting wool, discontinued patterns, tapestries and so on with all profits going to charity. The fabrics are donated and arranged in colours. There is also dressmaking and upholstery fabric. There were bins out the front with pieces of lycra and tulle and other bits and pieces. The stock changes regularly depending on donations received. If you no longer sew and wish to get rid of your stash they will happily take your donations.

It is open Monday and Friday 9.30-2.00 and the first Sunday of the month 9.30-12.00. The ladies serving were lovely. Although the address is in Belmore St, you enter via Porter St.

I happened to visit the day of their first ever 50% off sale and I bought six pieces of fabric, some quite big and all very good quality for only $19. This included a lovely piece of linen and some good quality stretch material. I can make at least six items of clothing and probably more from that haul. I had selected one piece that had a mark on it which I hadn't noticed and the staff pointed it out to me. Even at full price I would have been happy to buy it!

Congratulations on being this month's winner Barb and big thumbs up to The Fabric Cave for providing a budget-friendly store for sewers and crafters alike.

If you know somewhere special that others would like to know about, please write in and tell us. Send in your Hidden Gem here. Thank you and good luck!

4. Best Members' Blog: This Month's Winner

One of the many benefits of being a Vault member is that you can win a cash prize of $100 each month for your Simple Savings blog! Starting your own blog on the site is easy. All you have to do is log into the Vault, click on 'My Desk' at the top left, then 'Your Blog'. Then get writing! We love reading all your money saving trials and tribulations and really appreciate the effort that goes into each one.

This month's winner is Rising Grace (previously Fall from Grace) for this extract from her blog 'I'm addicted to shopping':

Note: I'm pretty horrified about how much money I've spent. I don't really need or want any comments expressing disgust or shock about it, please keep it nice. I'm feeling very ashamed, especially as I know how tough some people are doing it on here. I'm a bit fragile and writing this at 2am because I can't sleep for worry and won't have the guts to admit any of it in the morning!

I think I have a shopping addiction. A genuine 'need to seek help' kind of addiction.

I can't stop spending money on clothing. Sometimes accessories and shoes, but mainly clothing. Over the last two weeks I've spent *deep ashamed breath* over $1000 on three skirts, a belt, a jacket, a top and a dress. This is not uncommon for me and the reality is that I can't go through a week without buying at least one or two items of clothing, often three or four... I am here to try and figure out why I do it and stop feeling so sick about how much money I've spent.

I think there are a few reasons why I do this:

(1) For much of my early adult life I was extremely overweight and couldn't buy 'nice things'. I lost almost 40kg about three years ago and suddenly a whole new world of *vanity* opened up to me. I can fit into all of the straight sized clothing lines and designer lines that I used to dream about. For someone who couldn't buy a year 12 school ball dress and had to buy a horrid, satin peach 'mother of the bride' ensemble, being able to fit into a designer size 12 is like a dream come true. Suddenly I started to develop my own sense of style and received positive attention from others. I regularly get random compliments from strangers in the street over what I am wearing and I get so much happiness and satisfaction out of that...


The happiness and satisfaction only seems to last for such a short while. I will buy a new skirt or dress and by the time I've worn it twice I am sick of it. I am embarrassed to wear something twice in front of friends or my boyfriend. Every time a social event comes up I feel like I have to have something new to wear to it. I guess I am trying to say that it's not just a feeling of vaguely wanting some new clothes but an overpowering need to have something new so that people will think I look nice and I will feel confident enough to actually go to a party. I have actually avoided going on a date with my boyfriend before because I felt that I didn't have anything nice enough to wear, even though my wardrobes (I have three, plus a full sized dressing room) are bulging with clothes.

I think my sense of self-esteem and confidence is irrevocably wound up in what stuff I buy and wear. I am known as the 'stylish' one of my group of friends and sometimes I feel so trapped by that expectation. Every time I have a job interview I have to buy a new outfit otherwise I am incredibly nervous.

I grew up in a relatively wealthy family and I have seen my mother shop like this all my life. My first memory of us spending time together was her buying me designer T-shirts at the age of three. My mother was very disappointed that these shopping trips ended when I started to put on weight as a young teen. Unfortunately, I don't have the income of my parents and my attempts to recreate their lifestyle just means I have nothing else to show for it.

I NEED and WANT to do something else with myself. I have tried to:

  • Tell myself savings in the bank feel better than a new dress (well for me they simply don't)
  • Direct debit 10% of my weekly income into a savings account (I have been known to transfer money from this acc. to my regular acc. with my smartphone in the change room at David Jones so I can buy stuff)
  • Establish an emergency fund of $500 (ditto with the transferring)
  • Cut up my credit card (done and I only owe a minimum of $500 on it nowadays)
  • Unsubscribe from fashion retailers' emails so I don't have to know about the lovely new things they are selling
  • Only go out with enough cash to tide me over (unfortunately I know my CC pin off by heart)
  • Give myself savings goals (goals that quickly die when I see something new and pretty).

I earn $740 per week after tax and I have nothing to show for it. This time last month I had a $500 savings fund and $600 in savings. I have spent it all. The only way I can pay for this amount of shopping is by living at home with my parents still and neglecting other areas of my life (boring necessities like car servicing).

Does anyone have any ideas about what I can do to help myself? So far I have decided upon:

  • Establishing my main savings account with another bank so I can't transfer money instantaneously to my everyday account. Any transfers will take three days not three seconds in a change room!
  • Putting a small amount of money away in an account I like to call 'fripperies' every week. When I have enough money in that account, I can buy something nice with it. If there is no money in that account then NO fripperies
  • Stop shopping as a 'hobby'. I love to go to a shopping centre on a Saturday and just wander and spend money. No more - I need other hobbies!
  • Actually getting some help from a psychologist for my self-esteem and self-confidence issues. I think I have a real problem and I won't be able to get through it on my own.

So for my own records, to keep me accountable and to try and keep me on the straight and narrow, I want to start this blog. I'd be interested to hear anyone's thoughts about other ways to help myself through this.

Congratulations Rising Grace for her honesty when facing her personal spending demons. To read more from her, or any of our other members' blogs, click here

5. Best of the Forum: Retail Therapy?

Everyone loves a little retail therapy now and again! Unfortunately it is something many of us turn to when we want to feel better but can't actually afford it and we end up feeling worse! Next time the urge to splurge hits, head to the Forum instead for plenty of savvy support, wise words and terrific tips like these!

Personal style catalogue saves on spending and washing!

Marvellous Mimi has just the trick to rein in your spending when cries of 'I've got nothing to wear!' echo around your house. Why not set up a style catalogue showing all the different outfit combinations you have in your own wardrobe? If it's good enough for the supermodels..!

What do you think is an excess that others see as necessary/normal?

This thought provoking thread cuts to the heart of the 'want' versus 'need' debate. Where do you think the toy sales catalogues fit into this equation?

Things I no longer buy

You will be truly surprised and instantly inspired by the countless things our savvy members no longer waste their money on. Delve into this thread for an abundance of everyday ways to keep your cash in your pocket.

A saving is NOT a saving when...

When you save money, do you put the money you have saved into a savings account or use it to pay off debt? Or does it simply get spent on something else - in which case, does this actually make it a saving at all? Tassie Bound provides some real food for thought when she questions 'where does the money you save go?'

How much do you spend on clothes for your kids?

Chocolatewheats has a teenage daughter who says she has 'nothing to wear'. But is she really hard done by? How many clothes does a child actually need? In this thread our helpful members are quick to share their advice and experience.

$1 savings plan

What do you do with those pesky gold coins that seem to find their way down the back of the couch and under the mats in the foot wells of your car? Our clever member Marigold has got a plan to make her small change really work for her!

Today I saved $$ by... thread number four

It doesn't matter HOW you save money - as long as you save it! This lovely, chatty thread shows the value in every single saving we make. Big or small, it all adds up!

6. Best of the Vault: Shiny, New Things

What truly makes you happy? Going shopping and spending your hard earned money on more possessions - or enjoying the self-satisfaction and peace of mind you get from having financial security? These clever tips from our Savings Vault show it is possible to achieve both!

Saving money while still having lots of toys

Babies and children love lots of new and varied toys which can end up costing a lot of money. Two good ways to save money and still have lots of toys is to:

  1. Let all of your friends with kids know that you love second hand things like toys and clothes. You will find that they will often quite happily pass on old toys and clothes, both for you and your baby.
  2. Go op-shopping (or second hand shopping). Toys from second hand shops are only ever a couple of dollars maximum and usually all they need is a wash with disinfectant - plus to your child it's a brand new toy.

If you get any toys from these methods it doesn't matter if your child isn't old enough for it yet. Just put it away and bring it out at a later date. Got too many toys? Then split them into a couple of boxes and swap the toys around every week. Your child will rediscover some old toys that they were previously sick of. I have found that as well as saving me money, my child actually prefers second hand toys to new.

Contributed by: Darra L

Make non-spending a habit

When I first became budget conscious, I started looking at where my money was going. The bottle of water from the store, the newspaper on the way home, the quick bite to eat with friends and so on. I was amazed to find how quickly those little things added up. So I implemented a no-spend day once a week. For one day during the week, I would not buy a thing. No food, no stamps, no papers, no mints, no music. Nothing! It was difficult at first to manage one day a week but within a fortnight I had built it up to two days a week. This means I have to work out exactly what I need and wait until a spending day to purchase it. This not only stops silly spending but once you actually have to wait to buy something you usually forget you needed it in the first place! No spending days have transformed my spending habits and I urge anyone trying to cut down on consumerism to consider having their very own no-spend days.

Contributed by: Jan Dooley

Scratch that spending itch

I'm saving madly to build a new house so I've really cut down on discretionary spending. Every so often, however, my fingers itch to spend money on something frivolous and unnecessary. When this happens I think ahead for the next few months. Whose birthday is coming up? Is Christmas coming up? Are there any special events coming up? What essential item do I need to spend money on? I then make a list of presents or essential items and go shopping for those things instead. I have no guilt trips as it's money I would have spent anyway and I'm prepared with presents and other things so no last minute panic. Best of all, that itchy spending finger has gone!

Contributed by: Helen Kuisma

Joining toy library

I joined the local toy library when my son was about ten months old, the age when he needed the bigger, more expensive toys to keep him occupied. For an annual membership of $50, and one rostered 'shift' (1.5 hours) in the library per term, I can borrow up to six toys for two weeks. So far I have only borrowed three toys each time but each set of three toys would have cost over $100 to buy. He gets to play with different toys every two weeks and I don't have to spend hundreds of dollars keeping up with his developmental stages. The value for the $50 membership so far: at least $350 in just two months!

Contributed by: Kirrilly Lindberg

Creative kids' fun from the recycle bin

I've discovered a great way to keep my three-year-old happily entertained with free decorative boxes she can paint! We keep all of our old cardboard boxes for recycling - cereal boxes, tea bag boxes and so on. When my daughter wants to paint something, instead of going out and buying her something to paint, all I do is get something from the recycling, slide my finger down the sides to 'undo' the glue, turn the box inside out and re-glue or, if pressed for time, staple or sticky tape. This puts the printing on the inside, and my daughter has a beautiful clean box to paint and decorate to her hearts content!

Contributed by: Kate

No deposit lay-by traps

I find it annoying that stores put all the great (or not so good) sales, such as the toy sales, on when you receive your tax refund. Many people (including myself) have fallen for the no deposit lay-bys. The catch is that you must pay the first instalment two weeks later but then you can wait until Christmas to pay the balance. A lot of people put heaps on lay-by, only to have to cancel it two months before Christmas. It's the no deposit lay-bys that trap people into spending up big without the money to pay for the purchases later.

Contributed by: Naomi Kuta

Recycle your toddler's clothes

I save around $10 on each pair of my five-year-old's shorts, by recycling her toddler clothes - it sounds crazy, but it really works! I have already saved $60 on my daughter's summer clothes this year! Instead of throwing out size one and two shorts when your toddler has outgrown them; try them on your child again at around age four. You may well find that they fit again or are possibly a little too large! How does it work? Once the children outgrow their 'toddler tubby tummy' and no longer use bulky nappies the larger waistband made for size one and two clothes can fit a four or small five-year-old child easily again. You can either recycle the shorts as before, or make them into a cheap summer pyjama set by adding a T-shirt. You can pick up children's T-shirts for just a dollar or two each from larger supermarkets. Combine the shorts with the T-shirt and you have a saving of up to $15 on a regular set of pyjamas!

Contributed by: Kim T

Some extras to say thanks to our Vault members for all their valuable contributions:

Don't be trapped by expensive branded toy accessories Contributed by: Jeana Sullivan

Smart mums don't spend on toys Contributed by: Sandie

Unspend your way out of debt Contributed by: Lisa R

Felt fun toys are cheap to make Contributed by: Mon Cat

7. Cooking with Mimi: Family Treat Night

While we're all trying to avoid the temptation to shop for toys this month, let's reward ourselves with some delicious new family treats! I'm thinking a fun dinner idea is in order, and my Fondue-Style Pizza followed by my Triple Treat Ice Cream Loaf, fit the bill perfectly!

Who can resist soft, chewy cubes of bread dipped in rich tomato sauce, cheesy goodness and crispy bacon bits! And if you think that sounds good, wait till you slice into the gooey ice creamy goodness of the Triple Treat with layers of pink and white marshmallow sandwiched between ice cream and chocolate! Is your mouth watering yet?!

Fondue-Style Pizza

(Serves 6)


  • Medium serving bowl
  • Cheese grater
  • 2 microwave-safe bowls or jugs, 2 litre capacity
  • Whisk
  • Bread knife
  • Freezer bag
  • Sharp knife
  • Non-stick frypan
  • Flat serving platter
  • Dinner plates


  • 1 cup milk powder
  • 3 cups grated cheese
  • 2 cups water, made up to stock with 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 4 tbsp extra water
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • A pinch each of oregano, thyme and basil
  • 3 bacon rashers
  • 2 loaves unsliced bread, preferably day old


Use your bread knife to carefully remove the outer crusts of your unsliced bread. Pop these into a freezer bag for making breadcrumbs or snacks another day. Cut your unsliced, crust-less loaves of bread into 4-5cm cubes and place on your serving platter.

Next, dice the bacon finely using your sharp knife and set aside. You'll be dipping your cheesy bread into the bacon bits, so the smaller they are the better.

Spoon your tomato paste into your bowl, and add the four tablespoons of water and herbs. Stir well until it looks like thick tomato sauce and set aside. You could also use regular tomato sauce or pasta sauce if you prefer.

Now it's time to make the all important cheese fondue sauce. Measure your stock and milk powder into your microwave-safe jug and whisk thoroughly. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until steaming hot.

Next, mix the cornflour with four tablespoons of water until nice and smooth. Add along with your grated cheese to the stock and milk mixture and mix well. Microwave on high for a minute at a time, whisking between each minute, until you have a thick smooth sauce.

Toss your finely diced bacon into a hot frypan. Reduce the heat and allow to sizzle away for a minute or two. While you're waiting, re-heat your cheese sauce so it's piping hot for serving.

Now it's time to call family and have them lay out the table with dinner plates, cutlery, the tomato sauce and the platter of bread cubes.

Tip the crispy bacon bits into your small serving bowl and get it to the table pronto! Remove your cheese sauce from the microwave, give it one last good stir, tasting for seasoning. Tip it all into your serving bowl and take it to the table.

Now there's an art to this... but you'll catch on quickly. One morsel and you'll be sold... Simply pierce a fat, fluffy cube of bread with your fork. Dip it lightly into the seasoned tomato paste sauce and shake off the excess. Now dip it into your cheesy sauce before dipping quickly into the bacon bits, collecting just a few. Pop into your mouth and enjoy!

Don't ya love it? Sort of pizza-ish, sort of fondue-ish, heaven on a fork!

Triple Treat Ice Cream Loaf

(Serves 8)


  • Loaf tin or dish
  • Aluminium foil
  • Large spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Microwave safe dish
  • Serving platter


  • 1-1.5 litres vanilla ice cream
  • 6 large pink marshmallows
  • 6 large white marshmallows
  • 125g cooking chocolate
  • 6-8 small rectangular biscuits

Remove your ice cream from the freezer and allow it to soften for 20-30 minutes. In the meantime, line your loaf tin or dish with aluminium foil. Snip each marshmallow into three flattish discs with your kitchen scissors.

Cover the bottom of your dish with the biscuits, trimming them to fit. Next, cover the biscuits with a thick layer of ice cream about 10cm deep and smooth with the back of your spoon. Layer the marshmallows, white then pink, over the ice cream. Add another layer of ice cream over the marshmallows as before.

Place the chocolate into a microwave-safe dish and heat on 50% power for about 90 seconds until melted and smooth. Pour a thin layer of melted chocolate over the ice cream loaf and smooth again. Pop your loaf into the freezer for at least two hours to firm up.

When you're ready to serve, run a knife that's been heated under hot water all the way around the edges of your loaf tin to loosen it, and then upend it onto your serving platter, chocolate side up. Cut thick slices using a heated knife. Looks great, tastes even better!

8. Penny's Blog: You Can't Take it With You

April 29th

I'm back! I hope... goodness me, it's been a while! I would love to spin you a wonderful tale full of twists and turns all about my exciting adventures during the past month but the truth is, I've been in bed pretty much the whole time. I'm not going to bore you senseless with my health woes but in a nutshell:

  1. I don't have breast cancer - yay!

  2. I don't have cervical cancer - double yay!

  3. I do, however, have some sort of virus which attacks your heart and kidneys and can even kill you if you don't kill it first. No 'yay' for this one! Ali actually refers to my bedroom as 'The Chamber of Secrets' because I can disappear in there all of a sudden and not venture out again for weeks! Still, I'm up and about now and the doctors are doing their best to get rid of the blasted thing - only time will tell whether they have been successful.

Makes life interesting I guess! It's certainly one way to save money as I haven't been able to drive my car so no petrol expenses, no Zumba classes (saving $20 a week), no lunches out with friends (another $20 a week), no nothing really. All of life's little luxuries and material possessions become totally unimportant when you're not able to tootle off to the shops to get them or watch TV or read magazines to be exposed to all the 'must-haves'. Just goes to show that a person can exist quite easily on nothing but bed rest, chicken soup and ice cream when necessary. I mean really, at the end of the day, what else is important but food, your loved ones and a place to sleep? Not much, I've learned!

April 2012

2nd - Mr Patel - World Famous in NZ!

9. Lin's Garden Diary: Bugging Out!

Arggghh! My broccoli leaves have holes in them! Honesty, they look as though the kids have attacked them with a craft puncher! Keen to prove their innocence, Seb and Zoe became regular little Sherlock Holmes's as they hunted high and low for signs of snails, caterpillars and any other creepy crawlies but kept getting interrupted by pretty white butterflies. Turns out it was actually these nasty little critters that ate our leaves! In need of an effective deterrent FAST, we delved into the Vault and Forum and found a world of information on how to be rid of bugs and diseases, including some great natural recipes for organic sprays:

Banish the white butterfly!
Thanks to Susanne (VIC) for this tip! To get rid of the white butterfly she suggests 'Spray the plants first with the hose and then sprinkle plain flour over them. If snails, white butterflies or cabbage worms are the problem they will eat the leaves and flour. The flour will swell up inside them and kill them'. Donna (QLD) also suggests Pyrethrum spray. Senior Citz (QLD) says 'If you string small bits of white cloth or paper in the area of your vegies, the invading white butterflies will go away as they are very territorial and will not invade where another group is working'. Get the kids involved - Seb and Zoe had a ball drawing and cutting out their butterflies!

Scare off pests with soapy water
Yes, I'm serious! Water from the washing machine can be collected and used directly on plants in the garden. This helps protect from a variety of pests. The soapy water can be collected during the spin cycle and seems to work very well on tomatoes. Alisa (Otago NZ) also suggests 'left over soapy water from washing dishes. My mum swears by it!' You can also make a soap spray, which is good for banishing aphids, red spider mites, and thrips. You need 225g of plain soap and 9 litres of hot water. Grate the soap and dissolve in the water, stirring well. Cool before use. After spraying infected plants gently hose down with clean water. Repeat as often as necessary.

Garlic spray
Use this for ants, spiders, white fly, beetles, leaf hoppers, scale, citrus bugs (stink bugs), caterpillars, aphids, cabbage and tomato worms. Thanks to Bloomen Marvelous (Kallangur,QLD), 'I use about 7-10 cloves of garlic, a good swig of Tabasco (maybe a quarter of the bottle) and/or three chillies. Smash the cloves to a lumpy pulp and put the chillies or Tabasco in an old jug. Pour about a litre of boiling water and let it sit all day, all night and the next day. That afternoon add 70% water and 30% garlic, mix in a garden sprayer and spray as needed. The mixture lasts for about three weeks and then goes off'.

Onion spray
Great for spider mites, caterpillars and thrips. Place onions in blender or chop. Cover in boiling water. Cool and dilute before use.

Seaweed tea
As many of you know this is my favourite feed, but it is also really good for mildew, fruit rot and rust. Leave seaweed (the large floppy type) to soak in a bucket of water. I leave the bucket near the garden and apply once a week, allowing the rain water to top it up.

Chilli spray
Thanks to Mawghan (WA) for this general pest control spray. 'Blend together half a cup of fresh chillies with two cups of water. Add a dash of dishwashing liquid to improve sticking. If you have no chillies substitute with two tablespoons of Tabasco sauce. Always spray a small section of the plant to check for leaf burn. Check in 24 hours and if there is no damage spray all the plants you want to protect. Leaf burn with any spray is more likely to occur during hot weather.'

Lettuce spray
A great way to use up those limp lettuces in your garden or fridge! Use for white cabbage moth. Simply boil up the leaves, then cool and dilute before spraying.

I also love this tip from Cheshire Cat (QLD)! She suggests putting a hair net over young cabbage plants while they are small to keep the bugs out. She says it might look a bit silly but it works at keeping the butterflies at bay!

On a final note, to avoid unwanted pests and diseases, keep your vegie gardens tidy by removing dead leaves and falling leaves and gently forking through to allow good drainage and air flow. Crop rotation and companion planting also help to keep these pests away. A strong plant is a happy plant and is more likely able to fight off the nasties. Happy gardening everyone!

10. Homeopathy Corner: Big Savings

We are often asked why Simple Savings includes articles about homeopathy in our newsletters. It is a great question and the answer is; because I see the world differently to other people. When Fran first showed me how homeopathy works and how the remedies were made I was so excited. I thought if even a tenth of what she is saying is true the government would save itself millions, if not billions, of dollars.

When Fran first started writing articles for this newsletter I wanted her to do price comparison articles such as this one about Ron's osteomylitis. Osteomylitis is a severe and very nasty disease which her patient had been suffering from for 20 years. When Fran told me Ron's story, I started adding up the numbers and realised the government had probably spent about $80,000 helping Ron with very little success. Fran on the other hand gave him his life back for the grand total of $360. That is a huge cost saving!

Here is a link to Ron's article:

11. From Last Month: Kids' Clothes for Grown Ups?

Last month Sophia asked:

"I have lost a lot of weight over the past year and have gone from a size 14 to a size 6. I should be over the moon but I am really struggling to find clothes to fit me. Even adult size 8 clothing just hangs on me. I am resigned to the fact that I am going to have to look at wearing children's clothes but there is such a small selection of shops where I live and none of them have a children's range except for toddlers! Can anyone recommend any stores which carry a good range of clothing for teen girls?"

Thanks so much to everyone who sent in their ideas to help Sophia out. Here are a collection of our favourites!

Become a clothing market expert

Two years ago I had a similar experience. At 175cm and 65kg I was already considered slim/skinny but then was taken ill and my weight dropped to 53kg! I was fortunate in running into an old school friend at the local market (Chandler Markets in Brisbane). She was walking out with all sorts of things she had picked up from the general market/flea markets. From then on I joined her and bought a variety of clothes including designer jeans, pants, jumpers and jackets for $2.00-$3.00. You can try most things on at the stalls and you get an idea of what will fit after a while. It's amazing how a new pair of jeans can add a whole new dimension to your wardrobe. Give it a go - you may even become addicted like I did. People often comment on how well I'm dressed but I never let them in on my secret that my outfit costs as little as $5.00!

Contributed by: Kirsty C

Go undercover

Size 6 adult clothing is not as hard to find as she thinks. I can recommend checking out Undercoverwear's website at www.undercoverwear.com.au and click on the 'clearance' tab. You can find plenty of size 6 brand new fashions starting at $5.00 where the original prices were way more expensive. Also don't forget eBay! Just put 'size 6 women's clothes' in the search area. Major shopping centre stores such as Witchery and Sussan often have plenty of unsold garments on special because they are a size 6 or 8 and most of us are a larger frame. Happy hunting!

Contributed by: Pauline Bilotto

Free delivery from the UK? Whatever next!

For great clothing in all sizes try Next online (www.nextdirect.com). It is a British company which has just started delivering overseas. When you log onto the website you need to click on your country's flag at the bottom as not all items are available in all countries. They have a full range of petite adult clothes but also a range of teenager's clothes - and the best bit is they deliver for free! Honestly, there are no hidden costs and it doesn't matter how much you order; they deliver it right to your front door for no charge and if it is not right you can just send it back to them... for free! Hope this helps!

Contributed by: Emma Rainey

Look around for Asian stores

Visit the Asian shops in shopping centres or in the smaller neighbourhood centres and you will find many items in smaller sizes, including shoes and evening dresses. They are fashionable, cost effective and because they cater for a large percentage of their population they come in several colours.

Contributed by: Deb Manendis

Overseas/online keeps petite wardrobe stocked

I buy a lot of size 6 clothes from eBay, ASOS, Lippy, Wayne Cooper, Cue, and Review. USA is good to buy from for jeans because they go to size 0. On eBay I buy underwear and coats from Asia as the sizes tend to be small. Also I go to factory outlet places. Usually the size 6 clothes end up there reduced, which is a bonus!

Contributed by: Sandra Latter

GirlXpress is great!

Kmart has a great range of clothing called GirlXpress. It is in the adult section but made for teens and stocks a size 6. I buy most of my clothes from there as they are cheap and nice and I know they will fit. Dotti also caters for small sizes.

Contributed by: Celia Tanner

Compare stores with a few clicks

The best places to find smaller sized clothing are Asian and American brands or stores. For example there are Asian-based clothing stores in most shopping centres such as TEMT, SES and Valleygirl, who all often have very small sizes. Also try American-based online stores; they will have measurements to compare your body to their sizing guide, so you may find you will fit their size 4, or even a size 0, which is two below a 6. It may even work out cheaper buying this way because you can compare many stores with a few clicks!

Contributed by: Louise Harvey

Target for teens good for grown-ups too

I recently discovered that Target sell most, if not all, of their clothing online. Target seems to have a great range of teen clothing and their Hot Options brand is often made in a smaller fit. I sometimes wear a size 6, sometimes 8, but I find that Target size 8 fits me quite well. I believe they also put their measurements on the site, so you can be sure whether or not something will fit you before you order.

Contributed by: Robynlouise Thomas

Be philosophical

I am an NZ size 6 (which is smaller than Australian size 6, so I really sympathise with your dilemma - I HATE buying clothes!). I found stores like Jay Jays and Alley X stocked some size 6 (I lived in Townsville). The thing with girls' clothes is that they usually don't make them with hips. They are kind of straight, so if your figure is one where your waist isn't too different in size to your hips, you might manage wearing size 10, 12, or 14 girls, but I'm finding it increasingly hard to find girls clothes that fit hips AND waist, especially after having a baby! I've finally decided that the only way I will ever get the clothes I WANT in a size I FIT is to make them. A friend who has great sewing (and pattern making!) skills is helping me. I've decided to cull my wardrobe over the next few years, so I own less clothing but actually wear what I have rather than a whole motley collection of things that get worn maybe once a year. I'm starting with some elasticised and gathered skirts. Four in different colours that use the same basic pattern, just enough to get me through this coming summer. Then next year I'll probably do the same with some dresses using a style that I can put leggings and long sleeves under, or wear sleeveless so I get optimum use out of them.

So my tips are:

  • Know what you like
  • Know the styles that suit and fit you best (no floppy necklines for my small busted frame!)
  • Consider spending more money on fewer items of clothing, but focusing on ones that can be dressed up, dressed down, and go with multiple other items in your wardrobe
  • Try to be philosophical about it all - can you put up with wearing those pants that are really a bit too big for a few more months this year, then get new ones next year so you can spend the money on some end-of-season sales instead?
  • Don't get sucked into buying something only because it fits. If you don't like it, you probably won't wear it. Unless of course it is your uniform!

Contributed by: Amy Diffey

12. This Month's Help Request: Where Do I Start?

This month we have an interesting one! Karen asks:-

"I've been on SS for a few months now, so am relatively new and loving every minute. However, I tend to flick from one thing to another, spending valuable time and need more structure. Do you have any suggestions to new members where to start? For example, I have:-

  1. Mimi's recipes/other recipes on my watchlist.
  2. $21 Challenge (read this book from the library).
  3. Hints & Tips (added to my watchlist).

I desperately need to reduce my shopping bill and need to menu plan more often. Does anyone have any other suggestions? What do other members do to get the best out of SS?"

If you have any tips which can help Karen, please send them in to us here.

13. Savings Story: Major Savings, Freedom, Freedom!

'I have just finished our annual household budget for 2011/12. My husband had kept our 2005 budget and I did a comparison and was amazed how much the cost of living has increased! Insurances have more than doubled, electricity has doubled and water is close behind. Food is a big one that has drastically increased since 2005. However, with all of those increases we have managed to cut our household costs in half since 2005! This has freed both of us up to be able to live the life we want and do things we didn't think possible.

At present we are not working and not getting any help from the government either in any form. My husband has had to change work (he was in the construction industry) because of his arthritis and is now full time at uni doing a degree, I am at home having time out also because of chronic conditions but we are not anxious because we have saved and been busy little savers from working hard and putting into place all the saving tips we could find and Simple Savings have had a large impact on that.

We have rethought EVERY expense we had and REVISED all of our spending habits. Some of which were; looking at all the different insurances we had, which really gobble up our hard earned dollars. We both had two life policies, which we simply did not need. So we cancelled one each and kept the ones attached to our superannuation which come out annually from our super, freeing up cash flow on hand. I have put the $21 Challenge principles into place every week now for our groceries; in other words I don't buy anything we just don't need immediately and I don't get tempted by the yummy sales.

As of last June we are completely out of debt, we own our own home, own cars and all our own stuff :)... This makes a huge difference between having to work sick and having time out to catch our breaths and RETHINK life and what's important. I have also put the $21 Challenge principles into place in clothes shopping and craft... and it's working! I am now trying it out with gifts which are a big one as I have six daughters, their partners and seven grandchildren.

Even my hubby has come on board with all of these things which make life a little easier and more pleasant. I am now passionate about putting saving measures into place and am still rethinking everything before I do it! AND the big plus is I'm having FUN doing it!

Contributed by: Jennifer R (reproduced from her blog)

14. Goodbye, Goodbye...

Phew! Well, that wraps up another busy month's newsletter. We hope you have enjoyed it and have been inspired by all the money saving tips. Our members are hugely important to us and we love hearing from you all! So next time you're on the website, why don't you get in touch and say 'g'day'! Let us know what you would like to see more of in our newsletter or any suggestions you have for something new to try.

Don't forget to spread the love around to all your friends and family too by forwarding them our newsletter or letting them know about our website. Help make their lives easier and save them money too! Or tell them about us on Facebook by clicking the 'like' button on our Simple Savings Facebook page.

Have a fabulous month and good luck with your Toycott Challenge. See you next time!

All the best,