This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Share the Joy!
- April: 50c Indulgences
- Winners of the 'Get the Good Oil' Competition
- Penny Wise is BACK! It's Been a While...
- Best of the Vault: Just Breathe
- Best of the Forum: What is Your Indulgence?
- Best Members' Blog: Focus on Where I HAVE Got Money
- Hidden Gems: Lentil as Anything
- Cooking with Mimi: Apple Tray Bake
- Claire's Corner: A $0.54c Cure for My $4.50 Habit
- 50c Indulgences: Inspirations from 'Gone with the Wind'
- Rob Bob's Gardening Blog: Saving Some Seeds and a Treat for Dinner!
- David Wright: Saving CAN be Fun!
- From Last Month: Lose Weight, Not Dollars
- This Month's Help Request: Don't Let Clutter Get the Best of You
- Goodbye For Now
How are you going? April has been a huge month here at Simple Savings! We were very excited to launch our Beauty Queen on a Budget app called 'Simple Beauty Tips'. You can find it: here in Google Play for android phones
and in the iTunes app store here.
We're also putting the finishing touches on the Simple Savings mobile site to make viewing easier when you're out and about. You can have a look at the trial version at mobile.simplesavings.com.au
We love receiving your emails and Facebook messages. Here are a some of this month's favourites:
"Oh how I LOVE Simple Savings. I even just love reading all the hints and my sponges and macadamia oil arrived yesterday. Thanks for a great site." (Liz)
"I just renewed my membership for another year with a little help from your free 30 day trial for the Simply Budgets software. I can't live without it now!" (Susan)
Have a great month!
All the best,
P.S. Special on Simple Savings Vault memberships - join the Vault for the first time for $27 (a saving of $20). The special lasts until Mother's Day (9pm, May 12, 2013).
P.P.S. Penny is back - Yay!
"What are you up to this weekend, Sal? Got any plans?" asked Hanna as the two of them prepared to finish work for the week. "Nope, nothing at this stage - and I hope it stays that way, I'm exhausted!" Sally replied. "Good!" Hanna grinned cheekily. "How do you fancy a weekend of pure indulgence to get rid of those shopping bags under your eyes?" "Did you say shopping?" Sally's face lit up. "I like that sound of that! I haven't been to the malls in ages!"
"Ohh sorry, Sal, I don't think my budget will stretch to shopping, I'm still on my debt diet!" laughed Hanna. "But I CAN offer you a wonderful spa weekend. I'm thinking manicure, pedicure, facial, the works! My shout. We could probably squeeze in a movie too - and share a bottle of bubbly!" "It sounds wonderful Hanna, I'd love to - but I can't possibly let you pay. That lot would cost a fortune!" Sally said, disappointed.
"Not at all! I'm talking about a DIY spa at my place!" Hanna replied with a smile. "Everything we need is already at home - we can sun ourselves on the veranda while we wait for our face masks to work their magic," she giggled. "I've borrowed a DVD from my sister and the bubbly is a bottle left over from Christmas. It'll hardly cost a thing. What do you say?" "In that case, I say absolutely!" Sally beamed. "Thank you, it sounds wonderful. In fact, it sounds even more fun than shopping!"
Note: If you're planning on indulging in some macadamia oil, we suggest you order this week as we are expecting to run out soon.
Hanna knew that the one thing better than spoiling herself was to spoil Sally as well! It is important to make time for ourselves - but it can be even more enjoyable to share a treat or special occasion with someone else. Having a little company to chat with, laugh with, relax with is all wonderful food for the soul. For BOTH souls!
The '50 Cent Indulgence' threads in the Simple Savings Forum have always been about sharing and gracious living. Helen and Annabel and the 50 Cent Army have taught us that there is so much to be gained from delighting in the small things in life, and that many life enhancing moments can be enjoyed for just a few dollars - or even no cost at all! So in the spirit of our 50 Cent Indulgence Month, we would like you to do two things. The first is to choose an indulgence - something that will only cost a few dollars but bring great enjoyment! Next, choose someone to share it with - perhaps a partner, family member, friend, neighbour or someone you may have just met. Your mission this month is to make someone's day - as well as your own!
To get you started and give you some ideas, here are some suggestions about sharing a 50c Indulgence with someone special:
High tea. Enjoy a right royal morning tea fit for the Queen, complete with home-made patty cakes, tiny cucumber sandwiches and pretty teacups. Spend a couple of dollars on... sugar cubes!
Movie night. Have a 'Gold Class' themed movie night using movies from your own collection, the library or the DVD shop. Spend a few dollars on... a bottle of bubbly!
Start your day with a smile. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so share a lazy one with someone special, complete with lovely linen, beautiful music and Granny's tea set. Spend a few dollars on... fresh croissants!
Candlelight picnic. Watch the sun go down and enjoy an easy picnic of chicken, salad and fruit. Spend a few dollars on... candles!
There are so many things you can do for just a few dollars so have fun using your imagination! How are you going to add the 'extra' to 'ordinary' and make someone's day? We'd love to hear how you go!
Thank you for all your wonderful beauty product recipes using macadamia oil - it was so hard to choose a winner! Congratulations to Sapna Sharma who won first prize and to our four runners-up:
First prize ($100 or $100 credit in Ye Olde Shoppe)
To make a beautiful facial cleanser, puree a peeled kiwi fruit in a food processor, then mix in two tablespoons of natural yoghurt, one tablespoon of macadamia oil, one tablespoon of honey and one teaspoon of ground almonds. Massage onto face and neck then rinse off with warm water.
Contributed by: Sapna Sharma
Runners-up prizes ($50 or $50 credit in Ye Olde Shoppe)
That list of ingredients on the back of my store-bought moisturiser was a mile long! When I looked up the names of all of those ingredients I found that I was buying oil, water and a whole lot of things to keep the oil and water from separating and spoiling. Now I just have one bottle of macadamia oil and one spray bottle of rosewater. I mix them together in my hand, then apply. I can change the ratio of oil to water whenever the season or my needs change and I am not paying for all those extra unwanted chemicals.
Contributed by: Cathy G.
Mix a small amount of macadamia oil and a small dab of bicarb soda together and gently massage into your face and neck for no longer than a minute. The bicarb acts as an exfoliant and the oil absorbs the nasties removed from pores. Gently remove with a face towel and warm water, working from brow to chin, then from decolletage up neck to chin. Finish off with a warm to hot (not too hot!) face towel to open pores and then whisk away any left impurities with some witch-hazel lotion. Leaves skin feeling fresh and clean. Repeat once a week for dry/mature skin and two to three times for oily/teenage/hormonal skin. On my **cough cough** nearly 50-year-old skin, I've noticed the impact on pore size and fine wrinkles and my skin feels more elastic. My 17-year-old daughter's face has shown a dramatic improvement of the scarring from acne since Christmas 2012.
Contributed by: Jo'Anne Spouse
For a wonderfully rich hand cream, mix:
- 1 cup macadamia oil
- 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
- A few drops of your favourite essential oils
- A few drops of apple cider vinegar
Combine well and enjoy!
Contributed by: Rebecca D.
Mix sea salt (or castor sugar) with macadamia oil. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil and you have a luxury exfoliant treatment. Wet skin, rub it in and then wash it off. Your skin will love you for it and feels so soft!
Contributed by: Marg Cross
Well this is a turn-up for the books isn't it! I know, I know, I thought it was the end of Penny Wise too! But you know what? I missed her. And I missed you. Not that I've been idling about and resting on my laurels mind you! No sirree, it's been a busy old time but jings it feels good to be back. I guess I should let you know that things are a bit different in Penny's world than where we last left off however...
For starters, as you can see, I'm now the shortest in the family. But as you can also see, there are now only three of us - just me and the boys. Saying goodbye to Noel after more than 20 years was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I married a good man; a very good man and an excellent father. We went through some horrendously tough times and came out stronger the other side. And, we were finally living our dream at the beach - this was supposed to be the easy part! But when I met Noel we were teenagers - just a year older than Liam is now. We were still kids. Now we are 40. As you would expect, we've both done a lot of growing and changing during that time! But instead of growing closer together, we grew apart. We wanted different things; we weren't the same people any more. In the end, trying to stay together became more heart breaking than being apart.
So it's onwards and upwards. At the moment, the boys and I are still living at the beach. They have jobs, are busy with sports and are happy at school. They have grown into wonderful young men and we make a good team. We're living in the same house and for now we still have a vegetable garden and a freezer full of food. We've got it pretty easy - but it's not going to last. Our house is on the market and once it sells, who knows what the future holds. We'll be going from the freedom and security of owning our own home to trying to find a rental property and managing life and everything it throws at us on a single income. It's going to be one heck of a journey but I feel well-armed. Why? Because I have eight years' of Simple Savings knowledge up my sleeve and thank goodness I do because by crikey I'm going to need it!
Read more of Penny Wise's posts here!
That's right - next time you feel a bit stressed or busy or overwhelmed, simply stop and take a few long breaths. This simple action allows our bodies to release some of our physical tension and gives our minds a quick break. And guess what - it's free! Here are some other wonderful inexpensive ways to help you 'stop and catch your breath'...
I saved a fortune on a day's well-earned pampering! I had a rare day to myself and was wondering how I could best spend it. My initial plan was to go to a movie, buy a coffee and some chocolates and then get myself some lunch, maybe a neck and shoulder massage - money, money and more money!
So instead I pulled some home-made chicken and vegetable soup out of my freezer and put on a DVD which I had been given for Christmas and hadn't ever made time to watch. I got out the foot spa, essential oils and foot cream, put on a face mask and made myself an extra big coffee in the recently bought coffee maker (bought for half price). The total cost for my treats? $2.77! This was for a whole marked down wedge of Brie, with two days before it was due to expire! I had a wonderful day of peace and quiet and pampering and I didn't have to leave the house!
Contributed by: Annette White
A recent Four Corners program about depression mentioned Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a learnable technique to tackle negative thought patterns. The Australian National University has an online program where you can learn CBT for free, called Moodgym (moodgym.anu.edu.au).
With Moodgym, you undertake five online modules, each of which probably takes about 30 minutes to complete. The program was originally developed to help young people at risk of depression, and has been so successful the ANU has now opened it to the general public. The program is easy and enjoyable to use, and has a secure login so you can do the modules at your own pace anonymously.
You can learn CBT with a psychologist where you could pay around $120 an hour. Say you visit three times, that is a saving of at least $360. All Moodgym will cost you is your Internet charges and your time. CBT is not a cure for depression or anxiety, but can help managing these difficult feelings.
Four Corners: www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2004/s1198510.htm
Contributed by: Samantha Franks
Find all the best spots in your area to view beautiful sunsets. Pack a nice picnic supper, take along some favourite music and stop letting the sunsets pass you by. These lovely memorable times with loved ones are truly priceless.
Contributed by: Lexie Walker
To take your mind off going shopping and spending, organise for a friend to come around for coffee instead. It's a great way to catch up with each other and enjoy someone else's company - no spending necessary! You could also alternate between them coming over, or you going to their place, then you are still going on an outing!
Contributed by: Toni
Here are a few more ideas for our valued Vault members:
Pampering without wasting Contributed by: Michelle Corkery
Holiday week without the expense Contributed by: Cathy Carige
Health retreat at home Contributed by: Ruth M now T
One of the reasons we love reading the 50c Indulgence threads is because they remind us to stop and enjoy ourselves. We have a huge variety of interests (and interesting people!) in the Forum. This means that we get to share all the different sorts of ways that people enjoy themselves - pastimes, hobbies or just simply reminders to have some 'time out'.
Maybe there is a new 50c indulgence just waiting for you to discover it!
Definitely the 'write stuff' going on in this thread! This wonderful group of members support and nurture writers of all descriptions.
We spend so many hours a day looking after other people, so why not take out just 15 minutes to spoil yourself.
What would be different if you 'restarted'? And, what are you waiting for!
Everyone needs a quiet place of their own - where is yours?
We are all unique and beautiful in our own way. Sometimes we just need a reminder.
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 Jude C. for her first blog AND first time doing a $21 Challenge! Good on you, Jude - keep up the great work!
This is the first time I've posted on here. After joining up in December and reading lots over the holidays, I've finally decided to give the $21 Challenge a go. I wanted to go away with my husband and children for the Anzac weekend but we don't have any spare money, and as a working and studying mum of two small kids I just don't have time for many of the ideas on here. I was glum about it for two seconds and then I gave myself a jolly good talking to, and told myself to think 'strength based'. Instead of focusing on not having money, I decided to focus on where we DID have money... thus the $21 Challenge has begun!
I realised I could save $200 by doing the $21 Challenge for a week. It took me all of two minutes to write a menu plan as I already have a stocked up freezer and pantry. I spent $40 at the store. We're midway through the week and I'm laughing, as the slow cooked meal I made on Monday was made into a pie on Tuesday and there is enough for another meal of wraps yet. Normally all the leftovers would have gone in the bin via a week in the fridge. I even picked the rhubarb from the garden, which usually just sits there until it wilts, and cooked it up to have with the Easiyo yoghurt in the morning (this is the Easiyo maker I found on the side of the road a few months back - yay to recycling people!) My daughter thinks she is having a real treat. So thanks for all the inspiration and ideas!
Thank you Jude C. for sharing your $21 Challenge journey and congratulations on taking the plunge! To read any of our members' blogs, click here
Our Hidden Gems directory is designed to help members source the best deals in their area. This month's Hidden Gem is Lentil a****s Anything as nominated by Singespitter.
When I first moved to Melbourne, a friend told me about 'Lentil as Anything'. It is a not-for-profit community organisation where you pay what you think the meal is worth. I went for a meal at the St Kilda 'Lentil as Anything' to check it out! The restaurant is run by volunteers and it is a bit of an alternative/hippy restaurant with a Moroccan theme. I really liked it as it was something different and the volunteers were lovely and have been very attentive every time I have visited. I can take a seat anywhere I like and they will often bring me out a menu and a glass of water. The food is really good and suitable for both vegetarians and vegans, and they also serve food that is gluten free.
There are no set prices. They have a box on the counter and you put your donations into that. There is more information on their website.
Where: 41 Blessington Street, St Kilda, Vic 3182
1-3 St Heliers St, Abbotsford, Vic 3067
233 Barkly Street, Footscray, Vic 3011
Well done Singespitter on locating such a fantastic hidden gem and thanks so much for sharing.
We just love a good apple pie. However, our recent wrestle with gluten sensitivity, rules the bought version out these days.
Here's my solution - a big tray of steaming and fragrant fruity gorgeousness, all soft and pillowy and delectable.
And the bonus is that your house will smell better than any commercial air freshener, ever!
- 1 cup yoghurt, any flavour
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups plain flour (I used gluten-free of course!)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 3 apples, cored and sliced thinly (a mandolin slicer is ideal for this)
- Icing sugar or cinnamon sugar to serve
Preheat your oven to 160C.
Lightly grease and flour a large baking tray or large lasagne dish.
Now is the time to melt the butter in a microwave-safe jug and allow it to cool slightly. Once the butter has cooled a little, mix it with the yoghurt.
Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Beat this with electric beaters until creamy and pale. This usually takes about 60 seconds.
Add the yoghurt and butter mixture, and reduce your beater speed to low, mixing well until combined.
Use a metal spoon to fold in the flour, vanilla and apple slices.
Pour it all into your prepared dish, smoothing it out and making sure that the apple slices are evenly distributed. Pop it into your preheated oven.
Depending upon the size of your dish and your ovens idiosyncrasies, this takes between 40 and 55 minutes to cook. It's done when it's golden brown and firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Sometimes I find an extra ten minutes with the temperature turned up to 200, gives the Bake an extra crusty top.
Serve dusted with icing sugar or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar with a little cream, custard, ice cream or yoghurt on the side if you wish. One layer of Apple Tray Bake is yummy, a tower of layers sprinkled with caster sugar or cinnamon sugar is a sight to behold and hard to resist!
This is a great one to serve for a crowd or for one very greedy family... he-he!
You can discover more of Mimi's creations in our Members' Blog section at </blog/>.
In the spirit of the upcoming $0.50c Indulgence Month, I am quite proud to have broken a year-long habit that was costing me around $30 a week, replacing it with one that costs just less than $4.00 a week (and appears to be helping my waistline reduce too!).
Last month, I shared how I managed to shave $188,846 worth of interest off my mortgage. The majority of this was by having my interest rate cut, but $23,200 of that sum was saved by increasing my fortnightly payments by the cost of a cup of coffee per day.
My daily espresso habit had crept up on me over about a year... since discovering THE best coffee in town. I used to limit myself to one or two 'bought' coffees a week, but then I discovered a café just downstairs from where I work part-time in the city. Their coffee is perfect, and somewhat addictive. And I love coffee... it's my only vice, without it, I get headaches, I get moody and I'm just not very nice to be around. But with great coffee just a short trip down the stairs, well, I had the perfect excuse to nip out of work for five minutes and come back with my little cup of happiness. But at $4.50 a pop, it was starting to add up. Perhaps not coincidentally, my waistline was starting to expand too.
So I took the stand and decided enough was enough. 'No more,' I said! 'I shall be strong,' I said! Yet there I was, Day One, teetering on the brink of withdrawal, dreaming of my perfect brew, imagining the soothing aroma... my inner-addict crying out for a hit of java. How was I going to get through the day, let alone the week, let alone forever? I tried having instant coffee powder... but my taste buds staged an immediate riot, followed by an uprising of my nerves... instant was not going to cut the mustard!
Then it struck me, I remembered the last time I had to go without my life support in-a-cup. It was back in October when I went along to Emily's school camp on Kawau Island. I took along a pack of Nescafe Cappuccino (extra strong!). And surprisingly, these little sachets of faux-coffee somehow got me through. It was a big ask, but I survived the week without any headaches or irritability (none that can be blamed on coffee withdrawal anyway), and quite enjoyed my instant, no-fuss, low-cost coffee alternative.
So a couple of weekends back, I popped in to the local supermarket and picked up a box of 20 - on special for just $10.99. That's just $0.54c each! And the wonderful thing is, I don't miss my $4.50 coffee at all! Yep, I'm now two weeks in and my expensive coffee habit seems to be a thing of the past! I can't believe I was spending so much when there was a perfectly good alternative at a fraction of the price! Hurruh for 50c indulgences!
You can read more of Claire's warm and wonderful words in our Members' Blog section at </blog/>
Our most recent 'Indulgences under 50c thread' was called 'Inspirations from Gone with the Wind'. Helen came up with this theme to remind us of 'ingenuity', such as that used by Scarlett O'Hara when she had to use curtains to make a new dress. So this month, we are making over our wardrobes without spending any money.
I have gone through everything I have and tried it on, invented new outfits and colour combinations. My favourite of all colour combinations is dusty blues with browns which I once would not have considered. I borrowed this one from nature, a brown cat with blue eyes and it just works! Considering new colour schemes, a little bit of mending, a couple of alterations and a session of re-dying to revive some black items gave me lots to work with. I polished up my boots and handbags using my favourite trick, a little vaseline on a soft cloth. They look like new. Used on leather this also has the effect of waterproofing. It works so well, even concealing little scuffs and scratches.
Most of us have all sorts of lovely things in our wardrobes we never use as they are 'too good'. For me that included a collection of pretty little purses and evening bags. Many are just lovely but even in the evening I seem to need my phone, brush, lipstick and money and it's all too much for a dainty little purse. I've brought them back to life and they give me joy everyday as gorgeous makeup purses and handy travel purses.
An old Glomesh cigarette case I found in an op shop houses my camera just perfectly. A Glomesh glasses case is the perfect size for my make-up. A small purse carries emergency supplies like Disprin and Band-Aids that I take everywhere. An evening purse is now my bag to keep jewellery in when I go away on holidays and it makes up the prettiest part of my packing. Little purses serve the same function as a bag organiser, to change handbags you simply move your purse system from one bag to another.
I love scarves too but cannot seem to wear square ones well - but tied to my handbag, they look beautiful! I can then work them in with what I'm wearing.
Last year one of my best things for winter was a blue cardigan with a blue fur shawl collar. I wore it day and evening. I had bought a blue fur coat in an op shop for $12 which I knew was way too much and made me look like a blue bear! BUT the collar was gorgeous so I cut it off and stitched it to a cardigan. So my beautiful blue cardigan cost around $25 all up. This year my daughter gave me a similar cut-off fur collar and pinning it onto a cardigan has given me another fabulous item for very little. My daughter also cut up a fur to make herself one of the trendy fur vests seen at the moment and it turned out wonderfully. The remnants made edges for boots and gloves.
There is just so much you can do! So take a look at your things in a new way and maybe even your mother's, grandma's or great aunt's things! Don't think 'old stuff', think 'vintage'. Many older things are beautifully made and wonderfully stylish... which is why I can never say no to a Glomesh bag! I hope you find some possibilities in your own wardrobe for the cooler months to come.
Come and join us as we continue on our challenges throughout the year to brighten up our lives for mere pennies and cheer each other on. A little bit of encouragement and a lot of ideas can make so much difference to your day!
You can drop in and join Helen, Annabel and the Under 50c Army here: Inspirations from 'Gone with the Wind'. Under 50 cent indulgences April 2013
We have been lucky enough to get a bumper harvest of the bih jolokia chillies. In fact, I think we have grown enough to provide us with sufficient tongue-blistering hot curries for at least the next five to ten years. As I am not a glutton for punishment I have decided to collect some seeds from them to share with a few people and freeze the flesh for anyone who will take it.:D»
Saving any type of chilli or capsicum seeds is fairly straight forward. All that is needed is a few sheets of paper towel and somewhere to keep them safe while they dry. A few precautions need to be taken when dealing with these little fellers and other hot chillies, so some rubber gloves were used due to the amount of 'heat' these guys have in their flesh/juice. These chillies are right up there in the top seven hottest chillies according to the chart in this link http://www.peppersrus.com/pages.php?id=2538 and I got a slight burn on my wrist from the juice while I was working with these guys.
Collecting the seeds is as easy as scraping them from the pith while preparing the evening meal and one chilli should give you more than enough to grow the next crop. I like to set them aside on some paper towel to dry for a week or so.
I find it best to use bulldog clips to hold the paper secured to the plate so you don't have seeds flying everywhere if knocked. I have also posted on some little paper towel envelopes that are easy to make up and handy for drying small amounts of seed in.
Once the seeds are dry they are ready to be packed up and stored in small envelopes, plastic bags or wrapped in foil then stored in a dry, cool dark place. Moisture is the biggest enemy of seed savers so be sure to make certain that they are all dried properly before storing.
I use cracker containers and keep the seeds grouped in larger bags according to varieties. These containers live in a bookshelf that gets no direct sunlight and are in a cool spot in the lounge room.
Still waiting for half of the garlic that was planted to make an appearance.
All but one of the garlic that got the fridge treatment have shot, so am most happy with that and the next lot should be ready to go in this week.
The raspberries are pumping out the fruit at the moment and make a great snack while wandering the garden. However, I think we will need at least another two barrels or a small bed's worth to get enough to preserve.
Bianca is planning on a beef rending curry tomorrow and it looks like we will be picking the first of our wing beans as a side
Have been looking forward to these guys for the past few months. **: )»**
I am happy with the way the jade perch are going at the moment. It's a bit hard to tell from the picture but I think we will be harvesting three or four in about a month's time. We are really looking forward to our first meal of home grown fish.
We were very lucky to get a gift of four large jade perch from a local grower and aquaculture specialist this week. He brought them over live in a large esky so they could be despatched, scaled and cleaned fresh for dinner that night. I was most impressed with the girls as they were present and interested in the whole process and they got to see first-hand how the fish were prepared. We cooked them up as he suggested with just some salt and pepper in a hot pan.
Not being a very big fish eater I was not sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. They were slightly oily but I sort of expected that as they are said to be the fish with the highest omega 3 content. Was very happy to get at preparing and tasting them now, as ours will be ready to start harvesting in a month or so I hope. : )»
Hope you all have a great weekend...
Read more of Rob Bob's garden blogs in our Members' Blog area.
I've been talking in previous articles about getting your finances to a place where you can pay your bills and your loans and start to save money. When you finally get there, it is an overwhelming feeling of relief to know that your finances are in order - I know, I've been there! Sometimes though, we are so busy herding every cent into this account or that loan that we can forget something very important - that life is supposed to be fun! It would be a very grim existence indeed if all we thought about was our bank accounts. So I'd like to let you in on my secret of how to save money AND have fun!
First let me share a story with you - back in 1986, my wife and I were living in a remote area in a cheap government house. We knew we would be transferred to a bigger city the next year and that once there, we would have to start paying much more expensive rent. What we did was 'pretend' we had to start paying that expensive rent a year earlier. We found all sorts of ways to put that extra money away into a special account and got a real kick out of watching it grow. When we were finally transferred to the Sunshine Coast, this money was a great start for a house deposit. And that is my secret - make a game out of motivating yourself to save money when you ordinarily wouldn't. We made a game out of 'finding' extra money and 'pretending' we actually had to pay rent. Of course we didn't - we knew that - but it was very satisfying finding ways to save money and reduce spending. Making a game out of it took some of the 'sting' out of not being able to spend that money!
Here's another example - if you want to buy a new car, do your research and go for a test drive. Fall in love with that car! But postpone the purchase for four to six months and START MAKING PRETEND REPAYMENTS ON A PRETEND CAR LOAN INTO A SAVINGS ACCOUNT. To keep yourself motivated and connected to why you are saving, make sure you drive past or pop in every now and then to look at 'your car'. You'll be able to save without the stress of a real loan, and if you find you are happy making the repayments you will have a nice deposit saved up when the six months are up and you'll be ahead! If you find you don't like making the repayments it will have been a lucky escape. It is important to note here that borrowing for anything that loses money is dangerous because if you decide AFTER making the purchase that it was a bad decision, you can't sell the item and pay off all of the loan with the proceeds. Pretending you have made the purchase is also a great way to make sure you really DO want to make the purchase.
So this month I'd like you to think of some 'games' you might play to achieve your savings goals and email them in so we can share them next month. It is amazing what tricks we can come up with to help us save money for something special.
Last month Jen Aitken emailed us about ideas to help lose weight inexpensively.
"I am looking to lose weight but I often find dieting can be expensive. Ironically, when you eat healthily with lean protein and fresh fruit and vegetables, it can be more expensive than filling up on cheap carbohydrates. Does anyone have any economic suggestions that they have tried and succeeded with (apart from the obvious of just eating less!)?"
We got some fantastic ideas - thank you for sharing your wisdom! Here are some of our favourite replies:
If you're trying to lose weight without spending too much, I can highly recommend the website www.weighitup.com.au.
This is a free service which provides fantastic eating and exercise plans. The recipes are all seasonal, nutritional and really tasty! There is even a plan for vegetarians. You can print off your menu plan, shopping list and recipes each week and can access old plans through the archive. The plan also gives a selection of snacks for in-between meals.
There is also an exercise plan which caters for beginners and intermediate fitness levels, they even have demonstration videos for you to check that you're doing each exercise correctly. You can input your statistics and update it weekly to follow your progress, and there is a forum to connect with others.
I have made a ring-binder with each of the plans and go back to my favourite recipes often. It takes a bit of planning and organisation, as any weight loss program does, but you can do it for as long as you like without paying for meetings or deliveries and the exercises can be done almost anywhere too!
Contributed by: Kath Wyer
Find a good fruit/vegie shop and a good butcher and only buy what you need. Buying 150g of lean meat means you are not paying for fat and buying boneless will save money. Buy only what you need in fruit too, for example, three pieces of fruit per day. Buy weekly so fresh fruit and vegies don't spoil. If your supermarket has a market day, make that your shopping day.
If you are time poor, shop around the outside of your supermarket to get your bread, meat, fruit, vegies and dairy so you miss out on the chocolate biscuit aisle and use some of the hints from Simple Savings for deodorant and house cleaners!
Change your thought patterns from 'eating junk food is so much cheaper than eating fresh fruit and vegies' to 'my health and well-being is worth every cent spent on food that is good for my mind, body and spirit'. You will save time and money on doctor appointments and on medication when you look after your health.
Do the maths too! Organising and planning your food can make eating well a lot cheaper! McDonald's Choc Frappe, Big Mac and medium fries is about $11. Over seven days, that's $77. A healthier option is:
150g of lean meat/fish/chicken at $10/kg over seven days = $10.50.
2kg fresh vegies (two cups a meal x seven meals) = $7.00 max.
1 tub of yoghurt x $1.50 x seven days for dessert = $7.50.
1 apple x $3.00/kg x seven days = $3.00.
TOTAL = $28
You have saved $49 which you can put into savings or pay toward your debt.
You can also swap recipes with friends and co-workers. Have a group of friends swap cooking for each other over the course of a month and you'll have plenty of good company and save money on electricity too!
Exercise for half an hour every day and you will sleep better, feel better and look after yourself better while encouraging yourself to keep losing weight. Save money by walking with an iPod or with a friend or your dog rather than using a gym. Another tip, Google exercises you can do at home using items from your kitchen as weights.
Contributed by: Tammy F.
Losing weight needn't cost a fortune, it's really just a matter of knowing what to eat! Here are some of my suggestions:
Eating loads of fresh fruit and vegies is a good way to shed kilos and also to help protect you in the future from 'lifestyle' diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. It's best to buy whatever is in season - this produce is healthier because when it grows in season, the plant needs less chemicals as it is being helped by nature. You can get loads of fresh produce for a very good price by only buying what's in season.
I also recommend cutting down or eliminating all animal protein (including dairy and eggs) and loading up on beans - they're a nutritional powerhouse! Nuts are okay, but are high in fat so beans and pulses are best. As a bonus, cutting down animal protein will save you money at the check-out.
"Eat to Live" by Dr Joel Furhmann explains why this diet is the healthiest long-term. It's a super-quick way to lose weight and feel really great too!
Contributed by: Lois Nethery
My low-cost tip for weight loss is to eat fruit and vegetables with every meal where possible. For breakfast, try eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes or cereal with fruit. When snacking, choose a fresh piece of fruit or perhaps some vegetable sticks. It also helps to limit your carb intake at night. And finally, drink plenty of water!
Contributed by: Sue Keane
Losing weight can be difficult, especially when lean proteins are so expensive! A good alternative is to have beans and pulses such as lentils, kidney beans, berlotti beans and so on. These are high in protein and cost very little. And if you have a slow-cooker, try cooking cheaper cuts of meat for longer so they become tender and delicious.
Another great technique to help lose weight is to eat every three hours so you don't get too hungry and overeat. It also helps to eat from a smaller plate so you eat less. And of course, practice eating mindfully - this means you acknowledge, indulge and enjoy every aspect of the meal, so no TV or other distractions! Sit and look at the meal, see the colours and concentrate on the smells. Be aware of the texture and tastes and chew slowly and carefully. There are books on this method and mindfulness is a general technique used in behaviour change. I used it to quit smoking and it worked first time!
Contributed by: Nicole D
I managed to lose two centimetres from my waist in just two weeks by cutting out sugar! I measured my waist when I first started, then went cold turkey for two weeks avoiding cakes, biscuits and drinks with more than 15 grams of sugar.
Admittedly, my sweet tooth is a bit of a problem so I allow myself to cheat once in a while, but try to stick to my no sugar rule as much as possible. I've also increased the amount of exercise I do, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift. By reducing my sugar intake, I feel a lot better, have more energy and my appetite has decreased!
I'm now having to buy smaller clothes, but plan to sell my old clothes to fund my new wardrobe! Cutting back on sugar has been the best thing I could have done and wish I had done it when I was a lot younger!
Contributed by: Danielle Oki
I've found a fantastic, totally free way to lose weight, saving me the $650 per year it was costing to go to the gym!
I went to the gym four times a week for two years without losing any weight. I worked out for 45 minutes and was monitoring my food intake, but without success! So I decided enough was enough and stopped going. Since then we've moved house and I've started walking along the beach each day for 45 minutes. I weigh myself once a week only and record my weight on Pink Pad (a free app for tracking your period, but also useful for weight loss!). I am now regularly losing 500g a week! I walk at a quick pace to '60s music. It's free, and for me, it has worked!
Contributed by: Sue H
Eating healthily and losing weight can be simple and affordable! My husband and I each lost 17 kilos on a very strict budget by getting the right advice!
Two years ago we went to see a dietitian due to my husband's weight. The dietitian gave us the general principles of losing weight - which turned out to be low-GI. We were on a budget and only had $100 to spend per week on food and groceries. But we managed to plan five healthy meals a day (including snacks).
The basic principles include eating at least five serves of vegetables a day, two serves of fruit and following the correct number of protein and carbohydrates for your personal situation, plus a suitable number of dairy serves. Shopping at local fruit and vegie shops saved me heaps as I wasn't tempted to buy too much in the grocery aisles. I also set a timer when going to the supermarket so I only filled my list based on the specials I was there for. Sticking to the dietary serving suggestions will also save you money as the dinner plate should be half vegetables, quarter protein (lean meats) and low-GI carbohydrate.
We spent $130 on visits to the dietitian and then cancelled future visits after I borrowed a number of low-GI library books. We created our own menu plans and shopped buying mainly vegies and fruits, low-GI breads, and cereals (oats are healthy and cheap). I also stocked up on frozen vegetables and berries when on sale.
My snacks included wholemeal muesli slice, sliced vegetables and crackers and cheese. Lunches included vegetable soups, sandwiches or salads with protein. Breakfast could be low-GI bread with peanut paste or oats with fruit and yoghurt, for example.
Contributed by: Sarah Smith
These are great, cheap protein sources, especially if you cook them up yourself in the slow cooker. There are lots of great recipes online. Some of my favourites include dhal, red lentil and vegie soup, and bean and tomato soup. Healthyfood.co.nz has excellent recipes with the cost per serve shown.
Contributed by: Jo Cook
Try eating more soup! You only need a few vegies (the more the merrier) and a stock cube and you can make a variety of filling, nutritious, low-fat cheap meals.
Separate into batches and freeze. You can make it even cheaper by making your own vegetable stock and freezing what you don't use. If you're still hungry, try supplementing with an English muffin, piece of toast, or some low-fat crackers. Alternatively, throw your leftover bits of pasta, beans or rice into the soup as it cooks. It will keep you going all week!
I use a base of leek, onion and celery, then add garlic and whatever vegies and herbs/spices I want to. Pop in a stock cube and water, then bring to a boil and simmer until your vegies are cooked.
Contributed by: Jessica H.
Denise Partridge has emailed asking for some help! She writes:
"I would like some hints on decluttering. It is too easy to buy things cheaply and collect far more than we need. I'd like some ideas on decluttering and limiting waste so I can spend more time on what I want to do."
If you have any pearls of wisdom you'd like to share with Denise, please send them in to us here.
Well, that's your Simple Savings Newsletter for April 2013. We hope you have enjoyed it and have been inspired by all the money saving tips. Don't forget to take some time out and indulge yourself just a little bit and gift some joy to someone else as well!
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Till next time...
All the best