This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Caught Short
- April: The Problem With Money
- This Month's Competition: How Do YOU Keep Your Cash?
- Last Month's Competition: Impossible Promises
- Best of the Vault: Spend Less Than You Earn
- Best of the Forum: A Little Determination Goes a Long Way
- Best Members' Blog: Same Time Next Year?
- Best of SS Facebook: Overcoming the Elements
- Savings Story: Confessions of a Stay At Home Mum
This month's calendar contains one of my favourite quotes by Charles Dickens:
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound nought and six, result misery."
I love this quote because even though money can't buy happiness, the harsh truth is, spending more than you earn does result in misery. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow - but sooner or later our bad decisions catch up with us.
The easiest way to ward off this misery is to keep your money in your pocket. But, keeping your money in your pocket can be very hard to do. So to make it a little easier, this month we are going to focus on all the different ways members manage to achieve it - me included!
I hope you have a lovely month.
All the best,
"Are you nearly ready, Sal? We've only got an hour!" Hanna chivvied her friend along. "Plenty of time! It doesn't take an hour to make a chicken salad," Sally rolled her eyes. "Just making sure I've got my purse. Right, let's go!" Every Friday, Sally and Hanna went for lunch together at their favourite café. It was their weekly treat and every week they ordered the same.
"Thai chicken salad and a large mochaccino?" smiled the waitress on seeing them. "You know me too well!" grinned Hanna. "That'll be $22.50 please," came the response. "What? Are you sure?" Hanna asked in alarm. "It's not usually that much!" "Sorry. Management's put the prices up," the waitress told her apologetically. "I don't have enough," Hanna frowned.
"What do you mean, you don't have enough?" asked Sally in disbelief. "I thought you were an amazing saver! Are you and John going through a tough patch?" She touched Hanna's arm, concerned. "No, not at all!" laughed Hanna. "It's just I only have $20 in my purse. It's all I ever carry on me when I'm out." Sally looked puzzled. "It's true," Hanna explained. "If I only carry $20, I can only spend $20. Guess I'll just have a toasted sandwich instead of the salad please, it's about time I tried something new!"
Why is spending less money than we earn SO difficult? Why do so many people struggle with it? The answer is simple:
We are under constant and continual pressure to spend. Our lives have blurred into one long, constant stream of sales pitches; on TV, on our mobiles, in magazines, on our computers, on the street, via telephone, in the supermarket, at lunch, at school, on the bus, on the train and at the movies. Wherever we go and whatever we do, someone is trying to get us to part with our money.
We all deal with this constant bombardment differently. These are the techniques that I have found work for me.
The first thing I do is hide money from myself. I only ever have a tiny amount of money in my everyday savings account and only keep a small amount of money in my pocket. If I'm going out and know I'm going to need more money than that, I only transfer the amount I'm going to need.
I often run out of money when I'm shopping and that is okay. When I have spent all I have in my wallet to spend, then I have reached my limit and that's fine with me. As long as I have petrol or a bus card to get home, it is fine to run out of money.
Another thing I do is be constantly cynical. I never ever trust sales people/pitches/adverts. If someone says a product is going to make me more beautiful, smarter, fitter or healthier, I want proof. This especially applies to doctors, vets and dentists.
If I'm thinking of parting with my money I find myself thinking in a realistic world what sort of return I am going to get on my investment. Will it make me happier, will it bring more money or will it give me useful skills I can use to get my money back?
When it comes to spending money it is important you do not care what others think of you. We need to be able to laugh, be sure of ourselves and shrug off social pressure.
We are told if we don't spend money we will be left behind. But in fact, the opposite is true; If we spend all our money - THEN we will be left behind. No matter how small your income, we want to help you to keep more of it in your pocket - starting right now!
Different saving strategies work for different people. Hanna limits the amount of cash she carries; I limit the amount available to me in my bank. This month we want to know what tricks YOU use to hang on to more of your money. What do you do to ensure you don't touch it or fritter it away? How much money do you manage to keep each month? What do you find is a good amount? How do you manage to spend less than you earn on a tiny income or a single wage, or with kids or a huge mortgage? The more tried and true solutions we can share together, the more people we can help to achieve happiness and avoid misery.
Send in your entries to us before midnight, May 15th. The winning entry will receive $100. We'd love to hear what works for you!
Last month we asked everyone to keep their eyes peeled for the most ridiculous examples of advertising in the form of products which couldn't possibly deliver what they claimed. We knew you wouldn't disappoint - and you didn't! We received stacks of entries and had a hilarious time reading through all the impossible promises you came across in a single month. In fact, there were so many great entries that we couldn't pick just one winner! So, we are awarding a 12 month Vault membership to all the following runners up. See if you can spot your entry!
I always wonder about the companies that sell ready-made meals delivered to your door. The ads always have the theme of a family with young children and the parents signing up to meal deliveries before cutting to the parents having lost weight and having so much more time to spend with the children because they don't have to cook. But what do the children eat? There is never any mention of meals for the children, and the parents say they don't cook now, so who is feeding them and what are they eating?! Makes no sense to me! Aside from the cost of ready-made meals, I always think the family meals where you cook and eat together are the best fun!
The ad showed a whole bag full of stuff being vacuumed down small enough to fit into a suitcase. I have suitcases and thought, Wow, imagine how much stuff I could pack away!' I hesitated for a week and finally decided that it would be worth it. How wrong I was! The first bag wouldn't vacuum. The second bag did but then I discovered that it was way too big for my suitcase. Not to be beaten I put it in the linen press - it was still saving space! Or so I thought, however, by the next day the bag had puffed back up. Whilst I could have returned the goods for a full refund, the cost of returning them ruled out that choice. A lesson well learned! I have never given into temptation from TV ads since and I have only ever bought one thing from the internet which did what it promised to!
According to the ads, buying and using Huggies nappies makes you a better, more patient parent and proves you love your kid more than someone who uses inferior nappies!
If there's one promise that is impossible it is kids' stylish room makeovers. They look great, the room is clean and tidy and everything has a place. It looks so fantastic that it makes you want to go and get all the matching pieces, so your house will look as good. Of course the reality is, once the kids are in there for a few hours they don't look like that!
Coca Cola is at it again. Have you seen its latest television commercial with the loved up couple who share every passionate moment with a bottle of Coke, only to find that when conflict arises in the relationship (symbolised by a smashing bottle of Coke on the floor), they are suddenly alone? But not for long - that magic bottle suddenly appears once again in the hand of the handsome Romeo to find that his gorgeous lady can't resist the 'Coke' and the relationship is reignited!
I find that adverts for children's toys or games show lots of happy family time and hours of entertainment. In reality, however, the kids look at them for around 30 seconds (while Daddy sits on the sofa with a beer, surfing the internet) before tossing them aside and moving onto something else. Before you know it, all the pieces of that new toy are scattered around the house such that they become just clutter and can never be used again (until, of course, you step on one of those sharp pieces on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, cursing that advert that made you buy it in the first place)!
My mum bought one of the new Scholl foot products, from the ads which imply other women will fall over while marvelling over your gloriously kept nails. So far I've managed to stay upright when I visit!
In the Sunday Mail there is an ad for Fisher and Paykel's Izona CoolDrawer Fridge, in which it states it will make your kitchen as stylish as Nigella's and hopefully your cooking just as good. Well I doubt that my 42-year-old kitchen will look as stylish as Nigella's just by the addition of a new fridge. As for the cooking being just as good, I think that very unlikely too - but doesn't Nigella spend most of her time lurking in the pantry looking through her herbs and spices rather than looking in her fridge anyway?
I bought a box of "Nice & Natural" super grain muesli bars. Does anyone really think that they are going to get a cape and super powers? It sure gave me a smile when I was packing the family lunch boxes!
I've been using Lynx deodorant for twenty years now, and not a single super model has ever fallen out of the sky, driven out of her way, or materialised on the bus next to me! Maybe I just need to spray more on (and maybe the extra spray explains why teenage boys smell the way they do?).
My favourite impossible promise is the 'Old Spice' commercial implying that you will be a 'real man' if you use Old Spice Body Wash.
The best example of impossible promises have to be advertisements by the cosmetic companies to promote skin care products which claim to be 'age-defying' using models aged under 25!
Ads for face products always give me a laugh. Often the model or 'everyday person' is either 13 years old, Photo-shopped or has had extreme plastic surgery or botox. Whilst I do sometimes find myself thinking 'ooh, that looks fantastic, maybe I should try some?', the sensible side always kicks in and says WASTE OF MONEY!
I clean houses for a living and love it. The ads that amaze me are the ones that say 'spray it on, wash it off and all is sparklingly clean'. I have used every product out there as I find the client has them in the cupboard. Not one does this for me so that I can sit and have coffee, smile or dance my way through the day. They all need at least a little bit of elbow grease!
Years ago there was an ad for Impulse body spray. If you wore it men were supposed to run up to you on the street to give you flowers. I wore that stuff for ages BUT no flowers!
And, the overall winner is Julie Darby with this ad that makes her want to throw something at the TV every time she sees it. We couldn't agree more Julie!
I think my all-time favourite for absolute codswallop (and that's a polite way of putting it!) is the TV ad for Nivea Q10 Firming Lotion. Nivea have now uploaded the ad to Youtube, here.
I don't think I've ever seen an ad which contains such a load of garbage as this one - it opens with footage of a VERY fit and toned young woman working out - someone who quite obviously hasn't a speck of cellulite and absolutely no need whatsoever for any kind of firming lotion. But what about the days you can't work out? Simple, says the ad, just use this lotion and (it infers) it's just as good as a workout for toning up - and can give you firmer-looking skin in just TWO WEEKS! Yes folks, just two weeks. We're also treated to shots of this young woman twirling around in a chair and prancing along the street in a short, short dress, and the final straw is seeing her slapping her pert bottom whilst admiring herself in the mirror as the voice-over spouts this nonsense. What is this cream - magic? It can't possibly give results like the ones (supposedly) shown in the ad, and in a fortnight?! Seriously... what an insult to the intelligence this ad is!
Julie wins herself $100 for her entry - guess we know one thing she WON'T be buying with it! Thank you to everyone for sending in all your fabulous entries. Just goes to show, it takes more than clever advertising and sneaky marketing to pull the wool over a Simple Saver's eyes!
For many people, the thought of EVER being able to have enough money to put any aside seems downright impossible. Fortunately these tips from the Vault and countless others like them are living proof that it really is possible. Why not give some of these a go for yourself?
I am saving more money than ever before since I switched to using cash only! I cancelled all cards which were attached to my accounts and no longer have a bank account with card access. On pension day, I make BPAY payments on my phone/Internet, power, gas and water accounts. I have automatic transfers of money into my savings accounts; this is a set amount every fortnight. I then go to the bank and withdraw the money I will need for the next two weeks. This consists of money for rent, petrol, medications, pets, groceries and then some pocket money for me. I put these into individually labelled resealable bags, which I keep in a zippered pencil case in my bag, and my spending money goes in my purse. I often have money left in my bags, but I still withdraw the same amount every fortnight. This allows me to grab specials and the occasional treat. Any money that is left in my normal account at the end of the fortnight, I transfer into my savings account the evening before pension day.
I have read and tried so many hints and tips on how to budget your money but this one has proved to be the perfect one for me. The amount of money I now save is amazing. I sometimes think that if I had only used this system when my children were little, I would be a rich woman by now, or at least a well-travelled one!
Contributed by: Gusta T
Pretending my husband didn't get a bonus and living accordingly has meant we can afford luxuries beyond our wildest dreams with zero effort! Over 12 months ago, hubby received a rather nice pay increase. However, we decided rather than use it and incorporate it into our everyday living, we would continue to live on the same amount as before and put the amount of the new increase into savings, for any luxuries we may want further down the track. In this short time alone my hubby and son have got to go to the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne and my daughter and I have got to enjoy a 10 night cruise to the Pacific Islands, complete with spending money! It's amazing how it adds up and it's money we don't miss at all!
Contributed by: Carole Watson
I am on a very, very low income, so I budget for every bill and expense. I put away bill money every fortnight and that way I have all my bills covered as they arrive, and we seem to just spend the rest. Last year I decided to pay me as a bill, so every pay day I pay me first, just $50. I now have over $1200 in savings. I can't believe how easy it is; just pay yourself before everyone else. The first couple of pays it was an effort not to touch it, but as soon as I saw it mounting up, I got very excited. I tell myself all the time that money is power. While $1200 is not much to some people, to me it's a fortune. Try it - it empowers you.
Contributed by: Catherine Eve
Our family has come up with a fantastic budgeting system, where the kids are the 'bankers'! We have become a 'completely cash' family. This means that we worked out what cash we need to put aside every week and we withdraw only that amount. I have a card in my wallet that has the note denominations on it, for example, three x $50, six x $10 and so on. When I get home, I give the whole lot to our boys aged six and eight and ask them to 'do the budget tin'. We have a money tin with resealable plastic bags in it, which all have category names and amounts on them. The boys go through and meter the money out, putting, for example, $15 in the family entertainment bag, $40 in the Christmas bag and so on. They then give their father and I our allocation for petrol and groceries and they keep out their pocket money. When we want money for clothing, holidays, birthdays or DVD and pizza nights we go to the bags and get what we need. The boys are learning the value of money and we always have cash on hand. We now feel so rich because we are so much more careful when we can actually see the notes. It's the most successful system we have ever used!
Contributed by: Michelle
I am saving over $2,000 a year by placing visual reminders around the house to help me stop making spontaneous purchases at the mall.
I was spending $20 here and there on things that I didn't really need, telling myself that the blouse, CD, book or thing I was buying was a bargain at just 20 or so dollars. This habit was costing around $40 a week!
To break it, I dug out a couple of these so-called 'bargains' and left them out on the table to remind me of the money I had wasted. Then I stuck a photo of Fiji on the fridge to represent the holiday I could have spent the money on instead.
Since then, every time I am in a shop and find myself tempted to buy something I don't really need, I close my eyes and visualise the unnecessary items on the table, then visualise myself sitting by the pool in a Fijian resort. It's a simple trick, but the temptation vanishes with the blink of an eye!
I estimate that this saves me around $2,080 a year. Last year this was enough for my husband and I to have that holiday in Fiji, and this year we went to New York.
Saving in this way makes me feel so good that I have cut spending in other areas too. It's wonderful that without feeling deprived we've been able to enrich our lives with travel experiences we never thought we could afford.
Contributed by: Eve
Is it a realistic expectation to consistently be able to spend less than we earn? These savvy Forum members all say YES! All it takes is a little effort and determination. Jump on in to some of these threads and be inspired.
Saffy is determined to do whatever it takes to live close to the line and achieve her dreams. Find out how she does it and gain heaps of valuable tips from other members too!
Knighty is absolutely horrified to see in black and white how much her household spends every day. She has adopted a new 'day by day' approach to getting their spending down to a minimum - and it's working!
Simplymum is a super busy solo mum of three. She's got more than her fair share of challenges - but she also has plenty of goals she's determined to reach!
Seachange has many dreams for her family. There's just one thing she's worried about getting in the way of those dreams - it's called Murphy's Law! How do you get ahead when life has a habit of throwing a spanner in the works? This thread has some valuable suggestions.
One of the many benefits of being a Vault member is that you can win $100 cash 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 right, then '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 Blog winner is ValueEveryCent with her post 'Same Time Next Year?'
"When I was a child my mother took me to see the movie above.
It was basically a laugh at how this couple met for 20 years at the same time each year. The main lead made everyone in her life the same jumper to wear. The movie was a bit like 'Groundhog Day', doing the same thing day after day, year after year!
Anyway this is not the point but mainly stealing the name because nothing I hate more each year is to be the same, be it financially, physically, emotionally or spiritually!
I like change but slow change. Sometimes it doesn't work this way... just my approach.
I am asking you today, will I see you back on SS in another year's time, two years', maybe five, doing the same old thing, making the same old goals etc?
Is this your future?
We have all set our goals on various threads and so I am inviting you to please share any successes you have had so far this year. We made a lot of promises to ourselves and others but what can you tell me that will not be the same for you now and next year?
Please share any successes that you feel pleased about, doesn't matter how small or big.
For me, I know I tend to slow down throughout the year as my energy seems to go.
I made a lot of goals at New Year and I have started off well.
- I have de-cluttered the pantry at long last (this was such a big relief).
- Recently lost half a kilo, that hopefully will lead to more losses and next year I won't be this weight again (this never ends, it seems like a life time job).
- I have done two council clean-ups removing unwanted waste.
- Started a blog, 'My Frugal Kitchen'.
- Commenced re-reading books and giving away unwanted ones.
- Changed my hair colour.
- And a really big one for me was... I am hopeless at gardening and don't know where to start, so what did I do? Found someone's garden that I admire and honestly I copied it and it looks great. It was fairly easy to achieve and is low maintenance.
- Did a re-styling of my house from op shop buys. This was a real budget makeover but looks great.
- About to start a thread called 'Cut Up Your Credit Card for Good!' This I want gone for next year.
- I want to have all my old photos printed. I was having a lot of trouble accessing them so now that I have worked out what to do, I will work through getting them printed and nicely filed away.
- I would like to give more attention to writing up of daily meal plans and also better organise bills. I recently had time payment cards sent to me so I can do bill paying fortnightly. File everything neatly and in order.
- That's it at this stage as I don't want to have too many that I don't do any!
This is very powerful and I think you all know this.
So what will not be the same for you next year?
Hope this might be a good shake up for some and also hoping those who have not been able to brainstorm ideas or know how to obtain what they want might care to share. Perhaps others may be able to help!
I was floored recently when I read someone on the forum had given up smoking. Could you imagine that - the change to your life, health and financial situation? I was really blown away by that achievement!
Thank you for sharing, ValueEveryCent - and all the best with achieving your goals!
You can read more of our members' blogs here.
Love Facebook or hate it, the Simple Savers Facebook page is a great way to learn even more tips and enjoy reading of other members' successes. One of our favourite posts this month comes from Bec, who may not be the most successful vegie gardener yet - but she's not giving up!
"I have a confession to make. Despite holding a Cert IV in Horticulture and knowing a heck of a lot about gardening, pest control and landscaping... I can't grow vegetables!
Many years ago, I lived in NZ and had the most wonderful garden... tomatoes and potatoes sprouting randomly in my compost heap, a lush and green fernery, a herb garden planted with about 12 different herbs, a vegie garden full of cauliflowers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas etc. The yard was lined with happy native plants for the wildlife to scurry in... it was amazing.
Ever since moving to Australia the climate and bug life has thwarted me at every turn. The bugs are supersized, the sun is too hot, the rain too torrential. There are hordes of man-eating grasshoppers that destroy seedlings overnight. The humidity encourages all the fungal and bacterial pathogens to flourish. There are possums and birds that take anything remotely tasty before I've had a chance to harvest it. The 30m gum tree in our yard made the soil acidic and didn't let through enough sun for anything to grow other than weeds. Under that acidic soil is clay, and then rock, barely one metre below the surface. I have tried and tried and tried and just cannot keep anything alive. It's an embarrassment! We have spent so much hard earned money digging out the clay, adding soil conditioners, building raised beds, buying soil, buying plants, seeds, staking things, making protective covers/cages/fences... within a single season it all gets inundated with disease, destroyed by bugs or killed by a combination of weather and forgetfulness.
On the bright side, our yard does have abundant wildlife, birdlife and native bees.
I'm going to give it one last go. I have a watering system in place, am doing some soil testing to make darn sure the pH is correct and all nutrients therefore available to the plants. We have removed the offending gum tree (it was looking dodgy anyway according to the arbourist, and would have landed on our bedroom if it came down in a storm), I have a coop full of chook poo and it's the perfect time of year for planting.
THIS DARNED SUB-TROPICAL CLIMATE WILL NOT GET THE BETTER OF ME!"
Good on you, Bec, we wish you all the best with your mission!
Joining our busy Facebook community is super easy. Either search up 'Simple Savers' on Facebook or click this link and request to join. Once you're in, let the fun begin!
I can hardly believe it but we have an extra $2,000 sitting in our savings account! I have been a stay at home mum for 18 months. My husband earns a slightly above average salary, which allows me to stay at home with our son. We have a modest home, with modest furnishings and modest tastes. We haven't really had a financial plan since we got married two and a half years ago and have just been cruising along, saving a bit some months and spending it other months.
When I first left work I had full intentions of making a budget, planning our meals, organising our lives and generally being on the ball with our finances. Each month when pay day rolled around, I would say 'this is the month where I get organised!' But it never happened. I am the first to admit that I have been lazy, unmotivated, complacent and ostrich-like. I have been a member of Simple Savings for over a year and always thought we were doing OK and didn't really need to know all these ways to save money. I had heard of the $21 Challenge but wasn't really motivated to try it and we were ticking along as usual - until last month.
With baby number two arriving in three months we needed extra storage space so we extended our garage to make room for all our stuff. This extension made a dent in the savings account which although we knew it would, was quite depressing to see the balance dropping and dropping and not going back up. Lo and behold, motivation began creeping in!
I downloaded all our bank transactions for the month and was horrified to find that I had spent an average of nearly $260 per week on groceries for two adults and one toddler. There were lots of other things I was also horrified to see but I started with the groceries as it seemed easiest. Motivation knocked harder. I decided to take charge!
I read the first two chapters of the $21 Challenge on the website, put a copy of the book on my library request list and did a stocktake of my pantry, fridge and freezer. Imagine my shock when I discovered I had enough ingredients to plan meals for the next 19 days! That's not counting meals like scrambled eggs, pumpkin soup and the emergency baked beans on toast. We had enough food in the house to live on for over three weeks! We just needed fresh fruit and vegies and that was about it. I didn't quite make $21 but my first grocery shop after doing the stocktake came to $61, down from $258 per week the previous month.
From then on I watched the bank account like a hawk and knew where every cent went. In previous months when the bank account got low, I would simply pull out the credit card and pay it off on pay day but not this month! This month it stayed in my wallet.
It's pay day again tomorrow and guess what? I have spent an average of $160 per week on groceries, saving us nearly $100 per week. By being aware and thinking to myself 'do I really need that?' and deciding 'no', the savings account has increased by a whopping $2,250! That figure makes me weak at the knees! I can't honestly say where the money has been going before now. We don't have the latest gadgets, appliances or clothing. I am truly at a loss BUT I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself right now! At the same time, I feel a bit sick that I didn't do this 18 months ago, or even 12 or six months ago, but I've done it now. I am motivated to change my ways. I have goals. I have the energy to do this and I have Simple Savings to thank for giving me the tools to continue saving. THANK YOU!
Contributed by: Rochelle Weston-Arnold
We hope you have found this month's newsletter helpful. Don't forget to enter our competition with your favourite 'how I keep my money' strategy! Send your entries in to us to be in to win. One competition which never changes is our 'Hint of the Week' competition. Simply send in your favourite money saving tip (you can enter as many times as you like) and you could win a 12-month membership to the Vault. We really appreciate each and every tip we receive. That's all for now, have a fantastic month holding on to more of your money!
All the best,