"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - January 2013

This issue includes:-

  1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Sally Kicks a Goal!
  2. January: See it, Be it!
  3. Hidden Gems: Mills Markets, Daylesford
  4. Best Members' Blog: Out With the Old, In With the New
  5. Best of the Forum: 2013 is the Year To...
  6. Best of the Vault: Inspire Me!
  7. Cooking with Mimi: Barbecue-Ready Stuffed Marshmallow Aliens
  8. Claire's Corner: Chapter 2013
  9. 50c Indulgences: The Gift Called Christmas
  10. Rob Bob's Gardening Blog: Planning Out the Year to Come
  11. Homeopathy Corner: 'How to' for Cough and Flu
  12. From Last Month: Starting a Non-Profit Organisation
  13. This Month's Help Request: Yeast and Wheat-Free
  14. Savings Story: Well Done, Briget!
  15. Goodbye, Goodbye


Happy New Year! We hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and a great rest. We have been having fun travelling from beach to beach and relative to relative. It has been a lovely holiday. Now we are getting ready to leap into 2013 by sending January's newsletter early ;-)

This year we are following the 2013 Simple Savings calendar. If you haven't already gotten yourself a copy, click here.

There are some new monthly challenges our Vault members wanted to try, and look out on the Forum and Facebook for our daily dose of inspiration.

It's been a big, big year at Simple Savings and we thank you for your support and fantastic feedback. Here are a few of our favourite messages:

"We had our first street party here last Saturday night after using your encouragement and invitations. We printed off 15 and delivered them to the surrounding houses. Seven households ended up attending and so many said, 'Thank you for organising this! It's great!' They are all really keen to do it again next year and block off the cul de sac (this year we had it in our side yard)." (Kath Olliffe)

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my love for your site and the difference it has made to my family and I. Thank you. Each day I learn something from this site. I believe I also have become a better person because of all the giving and sharing that takes place in the Forum. You cannot but feel inspired and also not want to be involved in some way by support, suggestions or in helping others once you start reading the Forum. This is such a wonderful outreach for the whole community, not only in the savings area. Thank you and merry Christmas from a grateful subscriber." (Jan B)

"Thank you for all you do with Simple Savings. I'm still learning and slowly making changes. I feel well supported and the response to any of my queries is always helpful and gracious. I take every opportunity to promote SS as it is an important part of my life now. Wishing you a very merry Christmas." (Jane, ACT)

"Going to have a 'Simple Savings' Christmas this year!" (Elise)

Have a great month!
All the best,
Fiona Lippey

P.S. Please note Ye Olde Shoppe will re-open 21st January.

1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Sally Kicks a Goal!

"Detail Sally - you need lots of detail to give you as much inspiration as possible," Hanna enthused as she and Sally glued pictures on their already cluttered vision boards. "I think I've got the hang of it," said Sally, "Look, I've even found a picture of my perfect bathroom sink for our renovations!"

Pete couldn't help himself any longer and sidled over to look over their shoulders. "What on earth are you two doing? Aren't you a bit old to be doing school projects?" he laughed. Sally rolled her eyes at Hanna and said to him very patiently, "Pete, we are setting our goals for next year by making visualisation boards. We look for pictures of how we want our life to be and stick them on the board." Pete couldn't contain himself now and guffawed out loud, "Seriously? Does that work?"

Hanna held up her board. "Of course it does, Pete. That is how I lost five kilos this year." Sally looked excited as she showed Pete her board. "Yes. And, I want to do the same. See, here is a picture of me when I was skinny." Pete laughed. "But, Sally you were only 17 in that picture." "Yes," smiled Sally "AND, soon I will be 17 again. I can already feel my wrinkles disappearing."

2. January: See it, Be it!

If this is the first time you have ever heard of a vision board, sit down and let me tell you ALL about it. They are a tool to help you STOP and THINK about things. The way they work is they encourage you to look at all different areas of your life and choose the direction you want your life to take. For example:

  • If you want to be thinner, you would stick a photo of your thinner self on your vision board.
  • If you want your bank account to be fatter, write down how much money you would like to have in your bank account and stick that on your board.
  • If you would like a new bathroom, place a photo of your dream bathroom on your board.
  • If you would like a different job, place a photo of the job you truly want on your vision board.
  • If you want to learn to cook, stick photos of the dishes you would like to learn on your vision board.
  • If you want to learn to knit, put photos of the items you would like to make.

It is that simple, and that is what we want you to do this month. This year we are following the themes of the calendar. If you haven't downloaded yours yet, here it is...

So let's get started.

  1. Write down a list of ten things you would like to improve about your life.
  2. Find some pictures online or in magazines that will remind you of your goals.
  3. Stick them on a piece of cardboard, in a Word document or in a book.
  4. Then tadaa! You are done. You have made yourself a vision board which will help steer you towards your goals in 2013.

Your vision board is the ultimate memory trigger. So place it somewhere you will see it every day to make 2013 a great year!

3. Hidden Gems: Mills Markets, Daylesford

Our Hidden Gems directory is designed to help members source the best deals in their area. This month's Hidden Gem is Mill Markets, Daylesford, Victoria as nominated by Lynne M.

"The Mill Markets at Daylesford is a huge second hand shop in the back streets of Daylesford. It's open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm. The Markets are filled with multiple stallholders selling an enormous array of goods. It is the best place for quality recycled clothing, shoes, bags, jewellery and so on for the whole family, from vintage to modern styles at very low prices. There are household goods from every era including vintage and retro furniture, old tools, boxes and tins. There are also antiques and collectables at far cheaper prices than major city antique shops (and the shops in Daylesford's main street!). You can browse at your own pace with no pressure and there are friendly staff walking the floor if you need assistance - they even ask if they can carry your selections to the counter so you can keep browsing in comfort! I have been there a number of times and it is always changing. There is even a small cafe and restrooms. You can often catch a great special if a stallholder is closing down - crazy prices just to clear their stall. It's a great place to bag a bargain - I love it!"

Where: 105 Central Springs Rd, Daylesford Vic 3460
Contact: (03) 5348 4332 daylesford@millmarkets.com.au
Information: http://www.millmarkets.com.au/locations/daylesford

Well done, Lynne on locating such a fantastic Hidden Gem and thanks so much for sharing.

4. Best Members' Blog: Out With the Old, In With the New

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 Bruce/Tracey D for this insight into female shoe shopping!

Miss2 was hell today, very whingey and demanding, and Tracey thinks this was somehow my fault. It all started because a school shoe of Miss9's blew out yesterday, leaving her with one sole flapping about like a fish on land. Meanwhile I was home sick today, nursing myself back to good health curled up on the lounge watching Toy Story 2.

Now you might see these two things as unrelated, but you would be wronger than a man in a marriage. Because of the shoe blow out, this morning Tracey made a mad dash to the shopping centre to buy new ones. Because there was a 'buy one pair, second pair half price' deal Tracey saw an opportunity to save money. Not. Tracey saw an opportunity to buy more shoes.

Gleefully checking her purse to see how many credit cards she had on her, she gave the girls their sizes and instructions and sent them hurtling through the shop looking for something suitable. Within a minute, Miss5 was back with her new shoes on her feet. They were pink with two inch heels and her little feet barely made it out of the toe box.
"Um, I don't think..."
"But they're my size!" screamed Miss5, teetering precariously.

And they kind of were - they were a size 9 in adults, and not children's. Not that Miss5 left disappointed. Tracey came home with five pairs of new shoes. My lack of high fives and exclamations of, 'Oh wow! Shoes! Yes!' didn't go unnoticed.

"You don't think I did well?"
"Why five?" I asked, as Tracey deposited box after shoe box onto the table. How do you discover you need more shoes at the shops? It didn't make absolute sense to me. "I thought we needed to replace one pair?" I don't know why I wasted my breath. I'll give Tracey this; she was able to explain the logic behind each and every purchase. Or I assume so. I drifted off to my happy place fairly early in the conversation. Although this lack of gushing and, let's face it, genuine interest might possibly be attributable to the fact I'm not well.

Tracey, on the other hand, was suddenly full of energy. Shopping can do that. "You watch the kids. I'm cleaning out their rooms," she announced, bounding off to the bedrooms. Now this bit does make sense - because Tracey had all these new shoes to somehow fit into their cupboards she needed to make space. So I put on a movie and Miss2 and I lay on the lounge together, with only occasional interruptions as Mum walked past the telly with armfuls of toys she expected to be able to throw out.

A little pointer for all you mums and dads out there - the Toy Story stories probably aren't the right movies to put on the telly when you're in the middle of throwing out old and unused toys.

Well I know that now. And fortunately it's a lesson I won't quickly forget because Tracey bought herself a new pair of shoes this morning with which she intends kicking me up the bum. :)

Congratulations Bruce/Tracey D and thank you for a great read! To read any of our members' blogs, click here

5. Best of the Forum: 2013 is the Year To...

See it, be it in 2013! As the year ends and a bright new one begins, now is the time to look at our lives and see what we might want to change or improve. Health, finances, family and friendships are examples of areas that might benefit from change.

Here are some great threads about making a difference in 2013.

Setting an intention for 2013

What are your intentions for 2013? Share them with other people and give yourself another reason to stick to your goals in 2013.

Am I lazy? Goal setting challenge

You are not alone - goal-setting is something we all struggle with! This great thread shares ideas on how to set and achieve your goals.

Goals and baby steps December

If you are in need of inspiration, these monthly threads are a fantastic place to start! Write up whatever things you want to achieve this month and soak up the support this wonderful group brings. Go on - what are you waiting for?

6. Best of the Vault: Inspire Me!

Sometimes, although you know what you want to achieve and you have a fair idea of how to get there, there is still something missing. It's called 'inspiration' and it's a bit like a key for your ignition - you just can't get started without it! Well fortunately, the Vault is crammed full of incredibly inspirational ideas to get you started on planning a wonderful 2013. Here are a few of our favourites.

Here's the plan for achieving your goals

Budgeting can be difficult and achieving goals can seem impossible, so I have designed a monthly budget to meet our obligations and to make a start on our goals. This starts each January and here's how it works:

  1. List all the goals you want to achieve, for example, paying off the credit card, setting up an emergency fund or buying a boat.
  2. Number the goals from the most important to the least important. Goal one is the most important, goal 12 the least important.
  3. Go through the list and allocate a goal for each month. Put goal one into January, goal two into February and so on. That is your goal for the month but you can be flexible. For example, depending on the balance, you might want to focus on credit card repayment for two months instead of one.
  4. Take a goal off the list once achieved and add a new one or bring the other goals forward. Remember, this is flexible, so if you need to re-prioritise a goal, simply place it in front of the others and continue on as before.

You might not achieve every goal by the end of the month but you will have made a start. This will give you great motivation to continue.

Contributed by: Miss A

Visualise then realise

I love the idea of visualising your dream purchase like a car or paying off the house.

Here's a practical way to make that dream come true.

Draw a picture of your goal, for example, the outline of a car. Draw a grid over the picture, maybe 52 squares, each representing one week or whatever number matches your savings plan. Then, allocate a dollar value to each square in the grid. Each week, fill in a square to represent how much you own or have saved towards your goal. Stick this picture where you can see it every day, so you can focus on your goal on a daily basis. This is great encouragement for the young and old alike.

Contributed by: Louise Mulqueen

Positive thinking lifts pressure

My husband and I are soon to become parents and our income has been cut in half. Now that we're on a tighter budget, I have realised how much we were caving in to outside financial influence from friends and family. From innocent dinner invitations to suggestions on 'must-have' products for the new baby, the dollars were being seduced right out of our pockets. At the same time, it quickly became uncomfortable saying, 'We'd love to, but it's not in our budget' in almost every conversation. It made me feel constantly deprived and I would actually end up spending money to make myself feel better. My husband stopped wanting to talk about our finances at all because he felt stressed out.

After thinking long and hard about our spending habits, I decided there were three main ways that outside influences were sabotaging our budget: social invitations, gift giving and pressure to buy. Once I specifically identified these influences it became so much easier to combat them.

Instead of declining every dinner invitation and feeling bad about constantly telling our friends we didn't have the money, we organised a monthly dinner party for the entire group. We rotate hosting duties and guests just bring a bottle of wine. Instead of eating out once a week with one or two friends, we now have a festive gathering once a month with everyone all at once - but only pay for a home-cooked dinner a couple of times a year! It puts us back in control of how much we spend. I've also realised that people essentially just want to spend time with you, so you can feel free to counter suggest a cheaper and more creative option than going out to dinner. Instead of, 'it's not in our budget', I now say, 'Would you be up for a picnic on the beach instead? The weather is supposed to be beautiful'. If the plans are set in stone, I say, 'We already have a commitment for dinner, but can we meet up with you all for a drink afterwards?'

I also noticed that giving gifts was really adding up. It was so simple to start making my own gifts instead. My favourite is to make chocolate covered strawberries and wrap them up in a beautiful gift box.

To stop caving in to pressure to buy, I've had to change the way I go shopping. It used to be a leisure activity to go with friends on the weekends, but I know I am too easy to influence. It's just inevitable that they will say, 'You look great in that, you should buy it' or 'I had this with my first baby, you definitely need it'. Now I shop alone, with a list! I've also stopped taking the bait in conversations. If someone is recommending a $700 mountain buggy stroller, I ask if they know of a more economical brand of similar quality.

The most important way I've stopped outside influence from wrecking our budget is to talk openly about things with friends and family. Through this I've learned that most people are in the same situation. A friend confided that she was deeply in credit card debt and didn't know what she was going to do. Now instead of meeting her for a weekly manicure and lunch date that costs at least $60, we have opened up and become a real support system to each other for reaching our financial goals. It's often perceived as taboo to talk about money with people, but I think our friends have been just as relieved as we are!

Contributed by: J.C.

Poetic inspiration

A while back a friend gave me a little poem that helped me stay within my budget as a single mum. 'Eat it up, wear it out, make do or do without!' The first encouraged me to be 'creative' with my cooking skills and use what I had in the cupboard, substituting ingredients where needed instead of running to the supermarket. The second gave me inspiration to create my own 'fashion' wardrobe and the last taught me that we could survive, and quite happily, without all the latest gadgets and expensive outings and so on. We stayed a close family, enjoying the simple things like picnics, walks in the parks, riding our bikes together, things that don't cost a cent but mean a million dollars! Making this my motto, I was able to put aside $5.00 a week (a lot of money back then!) and each school holidays we would have a day in the city and enjoy a nice lunch, a trip to the zoo or chips at the beach. At the beginning of each season I would go to Target or Kmart and layby new clothes for the children as they outgrew last season's and with my weekly savings, my children had at least one or two new outfits each year to complement the trips to Vinnies! All in all, learning to live within my budget kept me worry free, allowing my little family to enjoy the simple things in life!

Contributed by: Ute Pettigrove

Here are a few more ideas for our valued Vault members:

Combine weight-loss goals with financial goals Contributed by: Melanie Reddaway

Don't lose sight of your goal Contributed by: Mookiyum

Make your savings goals your screensaver! Contributed by: Kieran Booth

Set goals, find support and trust you'll get there! Contributed by: Minister of war & Finance...

7. Cooking with Mimi: Barbecue-Ready Stuffed Marshmallow Aliens... Invading Your Home Soon!

Are you sick of the same old desserts and treats? Cream of this, flour laden that, butter soaked thingos drizzled with cardiac arresting other stuff. Who needs it? For me, a toasted marshmallow, done in the fireplace in winter, and in the barbecue in summer, and I'm happy. Even under the grill will do in a pinch. Especially now that I want to be the new me. The me that's slender, fit, healthy and here for 45 more years.

Alien looks aside, these belong in everyone's dessert repertoire, and untoasted and lined up in a box, make the perfect gift. The girl child took one look at this baby and in her usual, gracious and ever respectful 12-year-old manner said, 'you don't expect me to eat THAT, do you?' Thus challenged I thrust one at her, straight from the grill and cradled in a spoon. 'Try,' says I. Eyes widened at first melt-in-mouth sensation, then closed in bliss as taste buds found warmed cinnamon sugar on the base. A swirl around the mouth released the salty popcorn kernel, along with the craisin and soft gooey choc chips. The final tang of just a couple of crystals of gourmet salt lingered for a second or two, whereupon she didn't even ask for another, but headed straight for ingredients on bench to make several for herself.

Did she ask Fabbo Mother whether she'd like some? No. Did it keep her out of my hair for a few hallowed moments? Yes. Therefore worthy of repeat performance.

Following is the ridiculously and mercifully short ingredients list which will make a hideously bountiful number of Aliens.

  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup popcorn
  • 1 tbsp craisins
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup water in a shallow cup or lid
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar, hot chocolate or latte mix
  • Gourmet salt flakes if you wish
  • Choc hazelnut spread or peanut butter to secure the popcorn kernels if giving as gifts

If you're making these as a gift, have a box ready to hold them. You will not be toasting them ahead of time. This would look ugly, not taste nearly as good and elicit response similar to that from the girl child, above. This also means that you need to include instructions for elevating to heavenly status. Something short and sweet like, 'Grill, barbecue or toast in the fireplace for 20-60 seconds' would about do it.

Take marshmallow, cut a deep cross into the top with a sharp, pointy knife. Ease an opening into marshmallow with fingers, being careful not to totally destroy marshmallow.

Into the little pocket, squeeze a kernel of popcorn, a couple of choc chips and a craisin. If you're gifting these, do it the other way around. Craisin - choc chips - popcorn on top. Secure the popcorn with your choc spread or peanut butter. This just holds it all together. We prefer the choc chips on top if they're going straight from bench to grill to mouth, but it really makes little difference. Heck, once you get a run on these, entire communities could spend a weekend trying to decide which way tastes better.

Dip the base of the marshmallow into the water quickly, then dip it into the flavoured sugar, hot choc or latte mix.

Set aside, 'cause this alien is done.

Consuming is easy. See directions for gift giving and off you go.

For the gourmet type a last minute touch of a couple of salt flakes after grilling, barbecuing or toasting in the fireplace is a new kind of devilishness.

Warning: Consuming more than ten Marshmallow Aliens in one sitting is critically unfair to thighs waiting to become slender. Watch out! Merry Christmas!

You can discover more of Mimi's UFOs (Unique Food Odysseys!) in our Members' Blog area.

8. Claire's Corner: Chapter 2013

I love this time of year! The silly season gives way to some well-earned end of year relaxation and the weather here in New Zealand is at its best. After a long, dark and cold winter it seems as though summer has arrived with a bang! The pohutakawas are in full bloom, the Auckland harbour is sparkling and there is a renewed sense of positivity in the air!

At about this time every year for the past four years, I've promised myself I'd make a serious start on writing a book. I've spent countless hours thinking about said book, I've pondered over plots, created a few characters and have tucked away a few clever lines. Starting 'The Book' is one of the many things I want to tick off my 'to do' list in 2013. Actually, when I think about it, it's probably more like seven or eight years that it's been in the planning stages! I can't really put my finger on why I haven't started it. I love writing, I love reading and I love coming up with characters and plots. But there just seems to be a bit of a block when it comes to sitting down and actually starting! But this year, while the sun is shining and the days are long and beautiful, I hope to progress from 'planning' and actually start writing!

One of the reasons I love writing is because it's a nice little escape from some of life's more pressing realities such as budgeting, dieting, parenting and other such joys! I can create my own characters and give them a life of my choosing - triumphs or tragedies, joy or despair, passion or grief... or a roller-coaster ride involving all of the above! Wouldn't it be nice if we could write our own story and decide exactly how our own stories would pan out? Hmmm... could be interesting?!

Of course, we can be the authors of our own story to some degree... with just a little careful planning along the way! And while getting that book underway is definitely a priority on my list for the year ahead, there are also a few other goals I want to achieve this year so that my own life story tracks along in the right direction! Here are a few of the key areas I'm planning to focus on this year:

  • Kill the credit card debt! For many years I was proudly able to state that we didn't have any credit card debt, mainly because I refused to have a credit card. But over the past year or so, for all the usual reasons, we have amassed some stomach-churning debt that has reached ridiculous levels. Hubby has cut up his card and we've paid it off this month; next month we'll begin tackling mine! I want it completely paid off by the end of the year. I've sat down with our budget and have decided that it is possible. It won't be easy, there will be sacrifice, there will be tears, there will be shops that will be wondering where I am... but it will be done!
  • Get the bathroom sorted! Approximately 19 years ago (I remember because I was pregnant with our son), we started renovating the bathroom. This year, the plan is to finish! It's laughable I guess, but it's just one of those projects that kept slipping down the priority list. But we are now at the stage where our bathroom is embarrassingly awful, I cringe when friends come over and need to use it. My goal is to have it finished by April. Again, it won't be easy... mainly because it costs money! We've had a few professional quotes and we simply can't afford to get someone to do it for us. So it's going to be a good ol' DIY jobbie!
  • Shift that last stubborn seven kilos! About six years ago I lost 25kg. But I've managed to put about 10kg back on. I've slowly lost three kilos but the last seven are proving very difficult! But this year I turn 40 (in May), so I'm determined to get back down to my goal weight before then! And because I've spent enough money in my life on trying to lose weight, I want to do it myself without spending a cent. My plan is to start journaling what I'm eating and to make the most of the great weather by doing plenty of walking. Watch this space!

I think that's enough to go on for this year. All being well, by this time next year I'll once again be credit card-free, I'll be at my goal weight of 74kg and I'll have a bathroom that I won't be ashamed of! And maybe, just maybe, I'll have written the first three chapters of my book!

So what are your goals for the New Year? How will the next chapter of your life unfold? I'd love to hear what hopes, plans and dreams you have for 2013!

DECEMBER QUOTE: Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

You can discover more of Claire's Corner in our Members' Blog area.

9. 50c Indulgences: The Gift Called Christmas

Our Indulgences Under 50c thread this month was "The Gift Called Christmas". We focussed on enjoying Christmas without being overwhelmed with too many demands or expenses and working out what's most important to us so that we make the most of this special season. I find Christmas a good time to reflect, to be grateful for what we have and to help others. This year several of our beautiful regular contributors have come into the Christmas season with serious illnesses and heartache in their families. This reinforces just what is important - simply being with our family and friends.

As usual we came up with lots of inexpensive ways to make Christmas special. For me, hand-made gifts and decorations cut the expense but increase the joy of Christmas! All year round I knit, sew and craft for Christmas. My little tip for crafters is to watch for materials in op shops - almost all my materials come in at under $0.50c a metre this way. I purchased images for the front of some of my pot holders on eBay very inexpensively. When I finally bring out all the things I've made over the year, I am amazed at the choice of gifts I can give people! I sat my sewing under the tree before I began wrapping and it was lovely to see it all! My advice would be start in January and it just works out!

In our home one of our favourite ways of creating a lovely atmosphere is to light lots of candles. I tend to just group what we have on a pretty tray. You can make them look much more dramatic if you place them in front of a mirror or use a mirror as your tray.

A second fail-safe way to make your home feel special is with flowers. Mine are just from my garden and the vase was $0.50c in the local op shop. I painted it to match my decor. Even if you just have greenery or some bottle brush, once a big bunch is in a vase it just looks lovely - and is free!

An evening drive to look at all the beautifully decorated homes is always part of our Christmas. We pack a picnic and thermos and make a night of it!

We hope you had a very happy Christmas everyone and thank you for your contributions of wonderful recipes and beautiful ideas. The New Year is very exciting and we have so much planned for 2013. Come and join us in January!

10. Rob Bob's Gardening Blog: Planning Out the Year to Come

Long-term goals for food production in 2013

Our long-term goal has been to become as self-sufficient as possible with the space that we have here. So far the focus has been on the back yard and I think the time has come that we develop a plan for turning our front yard into a more productive space. I would love to be harvesting from there by this time next year. The very front of the yard has a retaining wall that is unfortunately made from treated hardwood, so I'm not too keen on growing food directly in soil next to it. We have some tin left over from making the beds out the back and I'm thinking about making up some more wicking beds along the retaining wall. The only cost involved will be for soil and sand as the rest of the materials have already been stockpiled, which will help us out financially.

I would love to try out growing in a Hugakulture bed and am thinking about how we could incorporate one into the front yard. Hugakulture beds are constructed with a row of stacked timber of different sizes that are then covered with a soil and compost blend. The resulting mound is then covered with thick layers of mulch and planted out. The idea behind it is that the timber will slowly rot down in the base of the bed releasing nutrients and while it is decomposing it will act like a sponge, soaking up water and storing it for the plants to use. There are a number of sites that can explain it better than I with www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur being one of the better ones.

I would like to build the bed as a hybrid between the Hugakulture and a keyhole garden-style bed. I saw this version of a keyhole bed, 'African-style raised bed', and can see how the two different types can be brought together. A stockpile of fallen branches and a few small logs have been started in anticipation of starting the bed. Now we just need to find an old unwanted rainwater tank or something similar to act as a surround.

I would also like to add another 1000L fish tank and three more grow beds to the aquaponic system but this may be a bit of a tricky one with the limited space we have. Some of the IBC wicking beds that were placed next to the set up during the year may have to be relocated but that will only take a weekend to do.

I think with the new gardens out the front and the addition of more fish and grow beds we will be moving much closer to our goal of having the majority (60%+) of our own vegies grown on site.

Goings on in the patch

I decided to tidy up a few bits around the patch in anticipation of planting out some new seeds that arrived this week. I tried out a new seed supplier called "The Seed Collection" after seeing a post on the Share the Seed wall on Facebook. The prices were fair and they had a few seed types that I've been chasing for a while, like white beetroot. These will hopefully be planted out sometime this weekend along with some short 'Kuroda' carrots that I want to try out in the aquaponic grow beds. A few of the other seeds we got will be sown into seedling trays and coco peat pellets for planting out in the patch once they have put on a bit of size.

A decision was made to remove the bull's horn capsicum from the aquaponic system to allow more sunlight into the small barrel bed at the rear. Hopefully it will help some of the water chestnuts bounce back. I plan on removing all the strawberries from the aquaponics to make room for more leafy greens.

The fruit fly baiting stations will also be put up this weekend. I have made up five boards that will have the eco-naturalure applied and wired/tied up around the patch. Hopefully we will see a result from them fairly quickly as I have a few tomatoes that could really do with planting out in the patch, as well as a few capsicums and chillies that are not in the hoop house.

Harvests from the patch

Have had some great harvests from the patch this week.

The first Kakai pumpkin was picked this week. It hasn't been opened yet, but I'll show some pictures of the seeds and flesh once we do. I will be saving some of the seeds from this one for next year's crop me thinks! The bell chillies are also ripening up nicely and I have harvested about one third of the bush so far. There is a long list of people who want to have a go growing these, so I have already put some seeds to one side. We have continued to use up a lot of the greens in vegie stir-fries and were very happy to be able to include some of the brown seeded snake beans...

The size of these beans were a bit of a surprise. We are used to growing the shorter black seeded variety that only grow to about 300mm/1foot in length. A few of these beans grew to over 600mm/2foot in length. We have also been adding the eggplants to the stir-fries as we have been picking them along with sweet potato leaves. The sweet potatoes don't appear to be too badly affected by losing a few leaves here and there, so we will be using them a lot more often as greens from now on.

We also harvested another two spaghetti squash and cooked up our first one last night.

The squash was cut in half lengthways and then roasted in the oven for half an hour. The seeds were then removed and the flesh scraped out into fine angel hair pasta-like threads. I must say that we were all very surprised by the flavour. Bianca and I were expecting a bland zucchini like flavour but our taste buds were greeted with a sweet, almost buttery flavoured sensation. I will definitely be growing these squash again and am glad to see the vines slowly rebounding after receiving a good feed of seasol and molasses from last weekend.

That's about it for this week. Temperatures are set to reach 36°C here tomorrow and 38°C by Monday so think I should pop out and fill up the beds and barrels.

Have a great one all!

**: )»**

Rob Bob

Read more of Rob Bob's garden blogs in our Members' Blog area.

11. Homeopathy Corner: 'How to' for Cough and Flu

While we are looking at things we would like to improve this year, one of my goals is to spend more time working with Fran to teach people how to prescribe homeopathics. A couple of months ago I went to the Australian Homoeopathic Associations Convention and the things I learned were incredible. The amount of money our government could save itself by encouraging homeopathics is phenomenal. When the Swiss government taught their doctors how to prescribe homeopathics they cut the per patient costs by 15%. THAT IS A HUGE SAVING!

I truly believe Australia needs to follow Switzerland's example and this year I am going to work with Fran to help make that happen. As part of this Fran has been writing a Homeopathic book for beginners and here is a section of it. It explains the sort of things you need to look for when prescribing remedies for coughs and flus.

Well done Fran. You are doing a great job! Here is a link to the article:-


12. From Last Month: Starting a Non-Profit Organisation

Bea Davidson asked for help last month:

"I am looking at starting up a non-profit organisation for youth in my area. I would love to hear ideas about getting a business off the ground with as little outlay as possible. I need to know about everything from finding a premise, outfitting, setting up and then day-to-day running as cheaply as possible. We need to save as much money as we can so we can pour our profits back into the youth activities. Thanking you all in advance!"

Thanks so much to everyone who wrote in to share their wisdom with Bea. Here are some of our favourites!

Local councils can help with non-profit set ups

When starting up a non-profit organisation, try your local council and/or councillor as a first point of contact. Most councils have community halls available for minimal rent for NPOs, they may even have other buildings that are available for permanent lease. Councils also have a community services department that can help you find or get funding and assist you in setting up the group properly. For youth services, they may have a youth officer who can help you with activities and funding. Last but not least, councils often have good furniture such as tables and chairs available free of charge to community groups.

The local church is also a good place to get a permanent place to meet if it is only once or twice weekly and often, they can help you with activities or food during the activities. If you need additional funding, try looking on your local government website.

Contributed by: Deb Manendis

Six tips for non-profit success

If you're planning to start a non-profit organisation, here are a few tips to help things go a little smoother!

  1. The most important thing is bookkeeping. If possible, use a computer program such as MYOB or Quicken, or get yourself a volunteer. Meticulous account keeping shows integrity and honesty, and every supporter can get a 'profit and loss' report at the press of a button! Using a computer program is actually very speedy once it has been set up to reflect all your needs.
  2. Insurance (personal and public liability, property and so on) can be a huge cost but is vital. You will not be able to rent a place without this.
  3. Your local service clubs such as Lions can be of great help.
  4. Your 'must have' office needs are a computer, a three-in-one printer and up-to-date office software. This is all you need at the outset. You can design and print your own logo, letterhead, business cards and more with this basic software. You do need to look professional.
  5. Make sure the name you choose for your organisation is unique. Go to ASIC to lodge your business name. If there is another group using the same or a similar name, they will let you know.
  6. And lastly, keep plugging away - it can take up to a year to get everything in place!

Contributed by: Jane Stranger

Try Salvos for youth group start-ups

If you are keen to start a youth group in your area, you may find your local Salvation Army church a great help. You may be able to use the facilities of their hall and kitchen and so on. They very often have all sorts of youth-oriented things they can offer too. They often don't charge for the use of their facilities to help you keep costs down and as a way of donating to your cause.

Contributed by: Evelyn Wall

Approach bigger businesses for donations

If you are starting a non-profit organisation and need furniture, supplies, equipment or materials, try approaching businesses in your area. Many companies and businesses will donate to a good cause. The bigger companies like Bunnings usually require a letter on an official letterhead outlining what you are trying to do and what you require.

Our local Bunnings has a community liaison officer who approaches companies on your behalf asking them if they will donate materials to charities and community groups. Local groups like Rotary, Lions, Mens Sheds and so on will often also help. We also have a local community radio that does free advertising for charities and fund-raising. It also pays to talk to the local newspaper and get them to a write-up on what you are doing.

Contributed by: Isabel T.

Seek out skills from your community

Well done for wanting to help the youth in your area. My suggestion is to approach the council for any assistance they can give you - they might have an area available for use. They might also be able to give you information about government grants you could apply for. You could also try approaching organisations in your community for support with donations or sponsorship.

Get friends and family on board - everyone knows someone who knows someone that may be able to help - from providing help with running the program, providing goods and services and volunteering, even business planning.

There may be some elderly people in your community who have certain skills they'd like to utilise or pass on to the youth such as carpentry or cooking. If you're looking at incorporating sports into your youth centre, local sporting clubs might be able to help with coaching and tips.

Ask for help and assistance from everybody. Put posters up around town asking for help and ideas. Perhaps hold a meeting to gauge support and interest from the local community. Good luck and I wish you every success!

Contributed by: Leanne Matthews

Check out Glen Gerreyn's story

A fantastic guy called Glen Gerreyn did just what you want to do with only $2.00 in his pocket! He is very successful in what he does and I honestly think that rather than 'rethink the wheel', sometimes it is great to ask for help and borrow someone else's ideas. He is a great believer in asking for help and has been very successful in gaining sponsorship for his organisation, all in the interest of the kids. You can find out more at oxygenfactory.com.au/glen-gerreyn.

Contributed by: Mandiii Bonnett

Low-cost computers for non-profit organisations

Here are a few tips for saving on the costs of computers if you plan to start up your own non-profit organisation:

Low-cost refurbished computers are available for non-profit organisations from ItShare South Australia www.itshare.org.au, Computerbank www.computerbank.org.au (Victoria), www.computerbank.com.au (New South Wales) and www.cbq.org.au (Queensland).

If you already have a computer you might consider using free and open source software such as Open Office for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. You can find out more at www.openoffice.org. You may also like to check out the Mozilla Firefox web browser and Mozilla Thunderbird email program at www.mozilla.org

Another tip is to enquire at your local council as they may have a grants program you can apply to. Approaching your local member of parliament is another good idea as they often know about grants available and may write support letters to help with your grant applications.

Contributed by: KW

Visit Our Community website

Try visiting ourcommunity.com.au. They may have some people there who could help you out with advice.

Contributed by: Tania Belletty

Great websites for non-profit organisations

If you are planning to start a non-profit organisation, here are a few helpful links with heaps of information on grants, licences, OH&S, tax, applications, hiring and more.





For more about non-profit sponsorship, try: nonprofit.about.com/od/fundraising/fr/sponsor.htm

And for information about starting a non-profit business, try these two links:



Contributed by: Lynda H

13. This Month's Help Request: Yeast and Wheat-Free

Sue Izard has emailed with this cry for help:

"My daughter has just been told she needs to spend a few months yeast and wheat-free to give her adrenal glands time to recover from a whole range of foods they were reacting to. I've looked in the Vault but most of the dietary info is about gluten-free foods. Does anyone have any ideas about yeast-free?"

If you have any pearls of wisdom you'd like to share with Sue, please send them in to us here.

14. Savings Story: Well Done, Briget!

When emailing to thank us for the 2013 Calendar, Briget told us a bit about her savings journey and we wanted to share it with you. Well done, Briget - we hope you enjoy your well-deserved retirement!

"Thank you very much for another wonderful calendar. 2013 will be our first year of retirement and Simple Savings will be even more important to me now as I try and stretch our savings as much as I can.

"I have been a member since 2003 (I just realised it's nearly 10 years) and you have seen me through trying to be a SAHM for the last years of my son's schooling (successfully achieved) and then through saving so my husband could retire a few years earlier (achieved three weeks ago).

"I feel so glad I found your wonderful site that has helped our family achieve these goals.

"I hope you and your families have a wonderful Christmas holiday and look forward very much to whatever 2013 brings for us all."

15. Goodbye, Goodbye

Well that's our first newsletter for 2013! 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 get in touch on the Forum or on Facebook 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. We love hearing from you.

Don't forget to spread the love around to your family and friends 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.

We are looking forward to sharing a fantastic 2013 with you.

Till next time...

All the best,