Simple Savings Newsletter - March 2020

How are you doing? Well, I hope. I hope your family hasn't been harmed by the floods, fires or the Coronavirus. So far our family has been lucky. But, our luck could run out. So we are also making sure we are covered in case of an emergency.

This month we want you to make sure you are covered as well, so the challenge for this month is "Emergency Prep." To help you get prepared we have waded through masses of information, created some basic plans and found some wonderful experts to help you.

But before we go any further, I thought you might like an update from our new Leg Up program. The program is going really well and we were able to help some wonderful people this month. Here are some of their stories:

"We are unable to work at the moment due to all that is required to look after a severely disabled child. We live on a tight budget. A free membership would be a big help."

"My six-month-old son is currently going through treatment for high-risk neuroblastoma (cancer) - we're three months into it, and expect he'll be about 18 months old by the time it finishes. We need to be as frugal as possible to allow my husband to take unpaid time off work during the tougher parts of treatment and to look after our 2.5 year old daughter when we can't make other arrangements - so a membership to the Vault would be such a huge help to me in figuring out how to make this all work! Thanks for the opportunity :)"

"I lost my full time job in December. My Centrelink has finally been granted but I am struggling so much to adjust. I've done everything I can think of to cut expenses but would be so grateful for the ideas and wisdom contained in the vault. Hopefully I find employment soon but in the meantime please consider me for your leg up program. Thank you."

"I live on a farm under drought conditions and fire risk. We have been struggling financially for several years and out of the last 5 years I have only been able to afford my vault membership twice. I would love to continue accessing the Vault and all of the members information and experience to try and get back on my feet. Thank you."

Thank you for helping in a way that means I can help others. If you haven't heard of our Leg Up program, it is where we give away a Vault membership for every full price Vault membership sold. If you would like to apply to the Leg Up program, click here.

We had better get back to this month's theme: How to prepare for an emergency...

1. Challenges Emergency Prep

This month we want you to read through the newsletter and get yourself ready for your most likely emergency by setting yourself a challenge or two. You can choose from the calendar challenges below or set your own.

March - Emergency Prep

Easy - Find a waterproof box to store emergency supplies and/or documents.

Moderate - Start filling the your emergency box.

Difficult - Finish filling your emergency box.

My challenge for this month is to do the best I can to prepare in case any of my friends or family contract the Coronavirus.

2. General Emergency Prep

Before we move onto COVID19. There are some things that you should always do and have in your house in case of an emergency. These are:

  • Do your research - Have a list of all the people you may need to call and websites with important information on them on your fridge.
  • We have made this list to print out and fill in. You will need to log into download this list.
  • Insure your house and contents - a modest amount is better than none
  • Have spare cash - you should have a small, well hidden emergency cash stash in case you need to visit the shops and if internet banking is down. As well as $2000 Emergency Fund.
  • In case of a blackout - have torches, fairy lights, lightboxes with a supply of batteries handy. Rechargeable batteries are even better
  • Candles or tealights - in jars will light up a house or unit sufficiently if there is a blackout until power returns. Please use them safely especially if you have children or pets!
  • Keep matches - for candles etc in a screw top jar to keep them dry and safely tucked away
  • If your mobile phone is working - you can check your Energy Supplier for outages or to report them if your power is out, or if there are fallen trees or branches. These details will be written on your power bill or your power suppliers website
  • Bottled water - is always a useful thing to have in any emergency from plumbing to interrupted water supply issues
  • Especially if during - floods, cyclones or power outages or if you rely on tank water - in which case a generator is useful, but again don't use it indoors or in poorly ventilated areas
  • Alternative ways to boil water - are to use your BBQ, a Butane Gas Cooker or a bottled gas cooker. Remember that some gas stoves still need electricity to start them. These are also useful - for heating or cooking food without power but again preferably outdoors undercover or somewhere well ventilated
  • Portable phone chargers - or battery packs are a good option for mobile phones during extended blackouts
  • Though remember - sometimes during emergency situations communications may be down
  • Keep some petrol - in the car just in case you need to leave home
  • Camping items or a caravan - can be useful during emergency situations, so don't forget to look at what you might already have

3. Start a $2,000 Emergency Fund

Everyone needs an emergency fund, but not everyone has one. If you haven't got an Emergency Fund you are going to love our "Save $2000 Emergency Fund" challenge by Freedom.

Long term forum members already know about Freedom and her legendary debt slashing challenges. With the support of the forum, Freedom paid off $140,000 of debt in 2.5 years while raising two small kids on a household income of only $70,000.

Enough from me. I'm going to hand you over to Freedom:

"I am so excited to be leading the Simple Savings March $2000 Emergency Fund challenge! I would love to have you join me on this month-long adventure as we work towards creating a stronger sense of security in your daily finances, help you to form better money habits, which will empower you to make better money decisions and support you in saving a mini money fund that will enable you to cover unexpected expenses in a timely and stress free manner.

Over the month of March, we will be focusing on:

  • Creating the vision of achieving the $2000 goal.
  • Tracking your spending to gain awareness in four main expense areas - Mortgage/rent, food/groceries, bills/insurances and fuel/transport.
  • Creating a vision board, a spreadsheet or journaling in order to give form to the goal.
  • Brainstorming ways to reduce these expenses.
  • Brainstorming ways to increase your income.
  • Deciding on 5 action steps to take each week in these 4 main expense categories, that will have the biggest impact on reducing your expenses and increasing your income.
  • Reviewing and celebrating your weekly progress.
  • Keeping you accountable and in alignment with the goal.

To join Freedom's $2000 challenge click here. (You need to be logged into the Vault.)

This a Vault Members challenge. If you don't have a membership it is only $21. If you don't have a spare $21 apply to our Leg Up program.

4. CoronaVirus: What to do?

Some days it feels like the media cry wolf every 30 seconds. It can be really hard to work out whether or not something truly IS an issue. Should we be worried about CoVID19 or is it a pile of hot air?

At this stage, we don't know. The thing we do know is some people have almost no symptoms. This means no one has any idea how many people have already caught COVID19, they can only guess survival rates and they can't stop it from spreading.

There is a real concern that hospitals and our health care system will struggle to cope with the influx of patients and people who would normally have lived, will not, due to a lack of resources and staff.

The best thing we can do is to take care of ourselves, our neighbours and loved ones as best we can. Prepare the best we can and support the front line workers as best we can.

This may mean putting yourself into quarantine and, since this is Emergency Preparedness month, we have made a quarantine supply list. This is free to download. Please read it, share it and do your best to help others.

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5. Coronavirus and the Homeopaths

When the CoronaVirus first hit the media I got calls from my close friends asking "What are the homeopaths saying about the Coronavirus?" (In case you don't know I'm a closet homeopathy student. I have been studying it for 15 years.) My response was "Not much yet. But, I'll let you know if I find out anything."

You may be wondering why anyone would care what the homeopaths think about a pandemic. To explain this, I need to take a few steps back to the 1918 Bird Flu Pandemic. In this pandemic 30% of people who did not receive homeopathic treatment died. 99% of people who received homeopathic treatment survived.

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This is because homeopaths are great at treating viruses. Homeopathy evolved two hundred years ago before antibiotics when large epidemics were common and it was up to the homeopath to save the town or get run out of town.

Luckily for us, homeopaths got really good at saving the town and they wrote everything down so future homeopaths would know what to do during future epidemics.

Sharing information and writing stuff down is something homeopaths are very good at. The latest from the homeopathic world is this 2 and half hour webinar by Dr Robin Murphy ND:

The webinar was created for qualified homeopaths. But I thought others might find it interesting. In it Dr Robin Murphy ND, discusses past epidemics and pneumonia treatments in preparation for treating possible CoVID 19 patients. Dr Robin Murphy ND has over 40 years of clinical experience. He has been working with colleagues in Hong Kong and said he will create another webinar in a week or two if he has any new information.

6. Tips: Preparing for an emergency

Here are some great tips from the Vault to help you get ready for tough times.

Bushfire Box protects your family

Every summer, I create a 'Bushfire Box' as a cheap and simple way to protect our family's irreplaceable items in the event of us having to evacuate. In the occurrence of a bushfire, many people are too panicked when one hits, to concentrate on what they need to get together in a limited time. Thanks to my bushfire box, I know I am always prepared! I have a big plastic box to put all our precious items into - old photos, kids trinkets, jewellery and other special things. I also add any important paperwork, such as birth certificates, insurance paperwork, wills and other documents. I also have several important items scanned on discs which are also included and keep the entire box in a place which is easily accessible. Keep this in an area so that it can be grabbed in a hurry. In the event of a fire I know that all I need to worry about is grabbing the pets and the kids and the box! I compile my bushfire box once a year, then put everything back in winter. It's a simple and low cost tip, which I know will prove priceless should we ever need to use it!

By: Denise Stapleford

How to save your emergency fund for real emergencies

We avoid letting last-minute unexpected expenses eat into our emergency fund by putting a little away in an envelope each week. We have an emergency fund in the bank for real emergencies but found we were using it for the everyday little expenses too. Now we save our emergency fund for real emergencies with an 'expenses' envelope. We put a little bit in the envelope each pay day and dip into it whenever necessary. Even if you can only manage $5.00 per paycheck, it will add up and come in useful!

By: Jessica Rupe

Start a non-perishable 'Emergency Pantry'

This simple tip saves me a fortune when times are lean and I have extra people to feed! With extra family members coming to stay and only my pension to live on, I was worried how on earth I was going to feed five people. So I created an emergency storage cupboard to help ease the financial burden. Every fortnight I put several items in the storage cupboard; tinned tomatoes, pasta, long-life milk, a spare packet of biscuits, lentils - anything that won't 'go off'. I don't notice these few little additions in my usual grocery bill but it's surprising how it all adds up in my cupboard. Lo and behold I soon find that I have enough to make it through the lean days! It's important to remember to rotate and use the old and replace with the new but my storage cupboard is now well stocked and used only in emergencies. I don't worry anymore!

By: Caroline P

Crisis menu planning for others

If you ever need to help a friend or family in crisis with meals, consider drawing up an 'emergency menu plan'. I have one drawn up for both my immediate family and extended family which takes others' dietary needs and preferences into consideration.

I prepared a fortnightly menu plan for both my own immediate family and the extended family in a time of recent crisis. The total grocery cost for an online order less delivery was only $211.57. A huge difference from the money I had been forking out over the last month without a plan!

By: Robyn

There are plenty more emergency tips in the Vault. (You will need to log in.)

7. Claire's Emergency Challenge

Claire has been helping members prepare in the forum by leading the charge and collecting together useful threads. To join Claire's thread, you will need to be logged into the Vault.

EMERGENCY PREP - SS Calendar Challenge

Climate emergency 2016

Emergency Prep and Checklists - Theme of Month Challenge 2019

Emergency Preparedness 2017

What does your emergency bag have in it? 2013

Emergency kits 2014

Emergency food in the Car 2010

Emergency kit for the car? 2012

Emergency Toiletries Bag 2010

Latest news on - climate & survival topics - Mk 2 2010

What are they not telling us about the Corona Virus? 2020

Current Bushfires - Sharing and Caring 2019

How do you get smoke out of the house? 2019

Removing smoke smell 2009

8. Competition Winner: Dinner Pancakes

This month's Cook's Challenge competition was won by Erin Johnson. Erin has won $50. We only have one winner for this month's competition because - OMG! - only one person entered last month's competition!

Here is Erin's very cool recipe for Dinner Pancakes.

Dinner Pancakes

One of my pet hates is food waste; for a number of reasons.

It often goes to landfill, many people go without food and it costs me money!

I was hunting for a solution to use up all of our leftovers and foods that were a bit past their best and came up with a brilliant recipe idea. But to get the kids on board it needed a good name. That's where "dinner pancakes" came in.

Make a basic pancake batter:

  • 1 cup flour (can substitute for gluten free)
  • one cup of milk (can use dairy free)
  • 1 egg

Then add:

  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • small diced onion
  • 1 spoon of stock/stock cube
  • salt / pepper to taste

Finally add any leftovers that need using, such as:

  • corn, peas, carrots
  • zucchini
  • left over mash, potato, pumpkin
  • meat (corn beef, roast lamb, tinned fish)
  • capsicum, spinach, the list is endless

Give a really good mix (add another egg / more milk if too thick). Cook in a pan with a little olive oil, the same way you cook pancakes. They will keep for a few days in the fridge, and can be served hot or cold.

We like to serve them with salad :)

9. Win $20: Best money saving tip

We love helping people and we love it when you help us to help people. This month we are giving away five $20 prizes for the best money saving tip sent in by 21st March. Enter the competition here.

Till next month...

That is all for this month. I hope you have a safe, healthy month.

Take care,