Recent Hints & Tips

Full access to the Vault of Hints is for members only, but here's a taste! Hints are contributed by both staff and members.

Pod coffee machine savings
updated 5 hr ago
We have saved thousands of dollars since buying a coffee pod machine. Believe it or not, we would buy two coffees every morning, at a minimum cost of $7.00 - that's $2555 per year! After buying a coffee pod machine from Aldi for $80, we now get to enjoy our two coffees for a mere $0.74c per day.

We now always have morning coffee together before going out, enjoying time to chat and a hot drink. We are not missing out on a thing, just saving heaps of money.
Cooked vegetables in a roll
updated Yesterday
You can make a healthy, cheap and yummy lunch by cooking up chopped bacon, onion, tomato and mushrooms and putting this in a roll. My kids call this 'Army Grub'.
Grow two tonnes of food for $26.45!
updated 18 Mar 2018
The Diggers Club has a 'Budget Breaker Vegetable Offer' for just $26.45 including postage. It is a collection of their highest yielding varieties of vegetables and is available to anyone on a low income.

The Diggers Club phone number is (03) 5984 7900 and web address is

I wasn't eligible for the budget pack, so I spent $46 on seed. With 13 packets of seed, you can grow:

350kg of pumpkins
1025kg of tomatoes
610kg of cucumbers
9kg of peas
8kg of beans
300 parsnips
200 broccoli heads
100 bunches of silver beet
300 onions
700 lettuces
1200 carrots

I have a vegetable garden only 10 metres long and four metres wide. I spend an average of four hours a week on the garden, which includes the time to blanch and freeze surplus produce. We are a family of four on only one wage as I stay home with our three and five-year-old children. I now spend only about $7.00 a week on fruit that is in season and on special. I save a minimum of $40 a week which, after our initial outlay, is a saving of $2034 a year of healthy, pesticide-free produce.

I didn't know how much produce I could grow with our cold frosty winters, but I managed to grow a lot. I am more limited in summer as we are on dam water.

Happy gardening!

*The price of the low income pack was updated in 2018.
Easter fun, Easter savings!
updated 17 Mar 2018
I've come up with unique and fun Easter gifts for my goddaughter and her brother for just $5.00 for both of them - and saved myself $35! Here's how I did it!

I picked up some Milk Arrowroots on special ($1.56), a Decor Tellfresh 1.7L tub on sale ($1.00) and filled the tub with packets of sprinkles, choc dots and packs of unused ready-made frosting (leftover from packet cupcake mixes), all of which were sitting in my pantry! I printed pictures from websites of Easter decorating ideas including Arrowroot 'eggs' and 'bunnies' (with marshmallow ears), rolled them up and put them in the tub. I then found a pack of Easter stickers at The $2 Shop, put some stickers on the clear tub and popped the rest inside (no wrapping required!).

I usually go all out at Easter, spending up to $20 per child on eggs, toys and books, but this year they have an Easter activity to do together, something to eat and some stickers. And instead of an expensive Easter book, we're planning a joint family church trip which is free and very Easter-themed! All this fun for well under $5.00 for two children - a saving of up to $35!

To increase the savings, I've also made a pack for my son which is being kept at the back of the pantry, ready for the Easter Bunny to deliver!
Save on natural bodycare products with Lush
1 comment
updated 16 Mar 2018
For natural, chemical-free shampoos and body products, check out the Lush website. One shampoo bar lasts for weeks or months, depending on the length of your hair and how often you wash it. They are so gentle I've found I no longer need conditioner and have gone from having to wash my hair every day to once every three or four days, which all contributes to a substantial saving! Lush also have a huge range of natural skin care products (I'm in love with the Dream Cream for all over skin care). And they have an extremely efficient postal service. Check them out at
Amazing two-ingredient pizza base
updated 11 Mar 2018
Making your own pizzas is a brilliant way to save money on buying them - but I bet you haven't tried this! You can save even more money on takeaway pizzas by making your own bases using just TWO ingredients!

This recipe makes two medium sized pizza bases:

2 cups self raising flour
1 x 200g tub natural yoghurt

Simply combine your two ingredients in a bowl and mix together until well combined. Turn out onto a floured board or surface. Knead together as usual, then divide into two equal parts. Roll out your pizza bases, add your chosen toppings and pop into the oven for 15 minutes at 220 degrees.

The results are so delicious. Simply use up whatever you have in the fridge to top your pizza and you've got a super cheap and filling meal. I've converted all my family and friends too! I dare you to give it a go, you'll be amazed!
Healthy lunch box tips from the naturopath
updated 11 Mar 2018
As a naturopath I am always trying to give my son a healthy lunch. For weight-loss, it's best to keep carbs and sugars to a minimum and to give lots of protein snacks to keep their energy levels stable; plus fresh fruits and vegies. Carbs will fill their tummies but also imbalance insulin levels which can cause weight issues and energy fluctuations, so keep carbs to a minimum. Also be aware that fats are healthy as long as you choose healthy fats - those from natural sources that aren't extracted by heat or chemicals and aren't created in a factory. For example, cold pressed olive oil is good but avoid margarine and heat/chemical extracted oils such as canola, soy, corn, rice bran and sunflower. Saturated fats such as coconut oil, ghee and butter are good in moderation as they are 100% natural and heat stable.

Some of my son's favourite snacks include:

- Boiled egg (my son's number one fave - and something his classmates asked for when they saw his lunch!)
- Half an avocado with a spoon (needs to be kept cool, so best sent in a winter lunch box or use ice packs to keep chilled
- Fruit leather
- Home fried poppadoms; very easy and cheap to make! Buy in small packets at Indian stores and deep fry at home in your own healthy oil (I use home-made ghee for frying)
- Fresh seasonal fruits
- Cherry tomatoes
- I often give my son leftovers from dinner if they're able to be eaten cold. Usually it's a special treat such as sushi or home-made pizza, sometimes a rice dish, sausages and so on)
- Home-made savoury mini muffins or mini quiches/pizzas
- Omelettes/crepes cut into small pieces

You can also make small containers filled with:

*Rice crackers
*Dried fruit selection
*Nuts selection
*Bhuja mix (mildly spicy Indian chickpea flour snacks), they are deep fried so use in moderation unless home fried
*Cheese sticks (cut from a block of cheese, not pre-packaged cheese sticks)
*Pieces of fresh coconut
*Fruit and vegie sticks with hummus or other dip
*Celery sticks with peanut butter
*Salami pieces or biersticks
*Home-made popcorn (with butter and salt or cinnamon is fine)
No fail easy banana cake
updated 10 Mar 2018
Use up your over ripe bananas with this 'no-fail' easy banana cake recipe! You need:

2 tbsp margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2-3 soft bananas
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1 tbsp milk

Mix altogether, then turn into a round or loaf tin for 45 min at 180C. I have also tried the following variations and they all work - using wholemeal flour, raw sugar or olive oil as substitutes. You can also cook this cake in an 800W microwave for seven minutes and stand for a further five minutes. By my calculations, if you cut this size cake into 10 pieces, it works out to 3.5 Weight Watchers points per piece, or even less at 3 points if you use olive oil instead of butter!
Removing warts with Bluo
updated 5 Mar 2018
A simple, painless, effective and cheap method to remove warts is using Bluo (liquid blue laundry brightener). Simply apply a couple of drops to cover the wart and watch if come off over several days. Large or persistent warts may need a second application. It doesn't harm the surrounding skin and you don't need to protect the skin or cover the wart.
As an added bonus you can use the remaining Bluo in your wash to make it whiter and brighter without spending more on laundry cleaners.
A dollar a day keeps money struggles away
updated 24 Feb 2018
Saving $1.00 a day has helped me afford things I would have otherwise struggled to pay for. I started doing this when my sons started at a private school in the city. They would be invited to several birthday parties throughout the year, so to ease the financial burden of gift giving I used my money box. At the end of the year I would use whatever was left to buy school supplies for the following year.

My children have left school now but I still save my $1.00 a day which I use to treat myself to a pedicure, go to a movie or have coffee with friends. It's such a small amount each day that I find it doesn't really affect my household budget, but it always came to my rescue when I needed it, and now affords me my treats.
Cook dried beans in crockpot
updated 24 Feb 2018
We all know that dried beans save money. A packet of dried beans costs roughly the same as a 400g can but produces the equivalent of around five 400g cans. However, beans take a long time to cook from scratch - all that soaking and boiling, while a can is ready and waiting whenever you fancy a bean salad or tacos for dinner.

I have recently discovered that the crockpot cooks beans easily without pre-soaking. Simply throw a packet of beans into the crockpot with about five cups of hot water, set to HIGH and cook for two to three hours (check after two hours). This works for any type of beans except kidney beans, which contain an enzyme that can only be destroyed by boiling. Boil kidney beans for around 15 minutes before placing them in the crockpot, then proceed as usual.

Once the beans are cooked, drain and cool and then pack into ziplock bags and freeze. Into each bag, pack the amount that you would normally use for a meal. I find that half a cup (packed into the smallest size zip bag) is just enough for a salad or soup for one. I make up a new batch every couple of weeks or so, varying the types of beans so that I can grab a few different bags from the freezer and create instant three-bean mix!
'Needs' and 'wants' jar system stops impulse buys
updated 24 Feb 2018
My 'wants' and 'needs' money boxes are saving me heaps of money in frivolous purchases. Every time I feel the urge to buy something I decide whether it is a 'want' or a 'need', write the item on a piece of a paper and put the paper into either my 'want' jar or my 'need' jar. At the end of the month I assess what's in each jar and decide if it really is a want or a need item. If it's a need I research the cheapest place to buy it, and it comes out of my weekly budget. More often than not I decide that I don't need the item, so the money stays in the bank!
'Wants vs Needs' shopping list
updated 19 Feb 2018
Our family is saving $100 a week since I put the kids in charge of the shopping! We used to spend $250 per week on shopping, but I slashed it to $150 and got the kids to help me write a new type of shopping list which is sectioned into needs and wants. If the needs don't use the whole amount, they can then choose some of the 'wants' or have takeaway for dinner once a fortnight and the $100 we save per week goes into our holiday account. The kids love this; it shows them the cost of things and how to tell the difference between needs and wants, as well as the importance of saving for a goal. Shopping is so much more fun for all of us these days and hopefully my kids will carry the saving skills they have learned into their adult lives too!
'Treasure hunts' for tidy rooms!
updated 19 Feb 2018
I have found the best incentive for my kids to clean their rooms! I hide their pocket money throughout their rooms and they have to unearth it as they tidy up. The amount varies depending on the age of the child - for example, my 13-year-old gets $10 per week, but to receive this money she has to hunt for it throughout her messed up room! I hide the money in $1 coins while she is at school on a Friday, and she spends Saturday morning 'earning' her pocket money by cleaning her room to find it. The amount does vary depending on the age of the child but there are no more messy room as they look for their money and I love the results!
'No Car' week saves hundreds in petrol
updated 18 Feb 2018
We have saved almost $400 in petrol in the past nine months! We decided to have a 'No Car' week for one week out of every month. My husband and I walked 15 minutes to the train station instead of taking the car every day. We walked to the local shopping centre to do the weekly grocery shopping. Just doing that for a week saved us $40 in petrol alone. We have been having our 'no car' weeks every month now for the last nine months and have saved $360 so far.

Apart from the monetary benefits we have also found walking to the train station twice daily to be very good exercise. So much so that we cancelled our gym membership, saving a further $70 a month each! We have even found it has improved our relationship as we talk more on our daily walks. We can highly recommend trying a 'No Car' week. We enjoy ours so much, we're planning to try a 'No Car month!
Lower your standards
updated 18 Feb 2018
Lowering your standards might sound bad but in tight times it's actually a very good thing to do!

I decided years ago, when it came to my engagement ring, that I didn't want to wear my housing deposit on my finger. For that matter, I didn't want to wear my credit card bill or my mortgage payment on my finger either. So, we bought my engagement ring from a website selling cubic zirconia jewellery, for just $70! It's lovely allergy-free silver, with gorgeous, sparkling stones. I still love it every single time I look at it; as the website says... 'Only you will know!'
'E-money jar' perfect for cashless society
updated 18 Feb 2018
I have saved $50 in virtual coins in just a few weeks, since I started using my online money jar! I like the idea of emptying out my purse at the end of every day and placing loose change into a money jar to help me to save. The trouble is, I don't really carry any cash on me any more! Whenever I need to buy something I transfer the exact amount onto my debit card then go out and buy it. This ensures I never have excess cash to spend but it makes it difficult to save loose change. So I came up with this idea. Every time I log on to Internet banking I check all my savings accounts and transfer all the cents into a separate savings account called my 'e-Money Jar'. It's working perfectly and is amazing how quickly those few cents soon mount up!
'Budget board' keeps savings on track
1 comment
updated 18 Feb 2018
My husband and I have found our favourite savings tool is our 'budget board'. When we decided to buy a house, we set this up to help us save our deposit. It worked and we liked it so much we still use it! It is basically a whiteboard attached to the front of the fridge and separate budgeted items are written on it. The best one is 'entertainment'. We allocate $100 per month for entertainment - which means items you buy when friends come around (chips, dip and so on), DVD's, movies or going out. It is amazing when you realise how much you spend, and when you realise it's the middle of the month and you only have $10 left you get a lot more creative at finding cheap 'entertainment!'
'Breaking up' with credit card stops impulse buys
1 comment
updated 18 Feb 2018
I have put 26km between myself and my credit card to stop me making impulse buys. I have given the card to my sister to look after, so if I really need an item I have to get in the car to retrieve it, but I can still pay bills over the phone. So far my pride has stopped me making the trip to get it back, making sure my money is working on the mortgage!
$10 rule makes saving easy
updated 18 Feb 2018
I have finally found a way to save which works for me! This year I decided that I really need to start saving - however I find it extremely difficult. So I decided the best way for me to do this is to transfer $10 plus any uneven amount each pay to my savings. For example, if I get paid $356.89 I would transfer my usual $10 plus $6.89 to make $16.89. I don't miss $10 and don't even really notice when I use the extra change either but by the end of the year I should finally have a nice amount saved with very little effort!
$21 coin Challenge saves $150
updated 17 Feb 2018
A hunt round the house for loose change enabled me to do a $21 Challenge and save $150 in the process! My husband's job, which has paid him well for the last six years is coming to an end. I could tell that the stress of worrying about money was getting to him, as we have a large mortgage and also pay all of the costs for our son to live near his university.

I decided I wanted to help by trying the $21 Challenge - but with a difference. I did not want to take money out of our account, so I started scouring the house for change. A recent TV interview suggested most adults have around $13 each in change scattered around their home. I figured if I could find that elusive change, I could use it to do my $21 Challenge! I set about checking the change tray at the front door, found money on my bedside table, my husband's bedside table, the kitchen area, the bottom of my handbag, my change purse and before I knew it I had $24.95! Not only did I have enough for my first $21 Challenge, I had $3.95 towards the next one, and I hadn't even finished searching yet!

I completed my $21 Challenge and saved approximately $150. I feel like I am helping ease my husband's stress without him realising it. Another way of helping out and reducing his stress is that I did my shopping at our local country supermarket, rather than getting him to do a big shop on his way home from work in the city. The $21 Challenge is saving us so much more than just money!
Sane advice to manage bills
1 comment
updated 17 Feb 2018
My tip came from a friend as we were having a lot of difficulty in paying off bills and I was quite stressed.

We have a daughter and I work casual, only getting two to three shifts a week, which leaves me with a base of about $150, while my fiance earns about $600. In order to pay bills and cut credit card debt down, my friend suggested using my wage specifically for one bill. I now pay one bill a week with my wage and whatever is left over I either put on the credit card or in our savings account. I also use this for our loan, rent, food, petrol and so on.

I currently have no bills, I have paid $300 off the credit card and have some savings in the bank - this is in less than a month.

My goal - and I think I can get there - is to have half of my credit card debt paid off and the other half in savings.

I have also cut down on petrol by transferring from a supermarket 20 minutes away to one only two minutes away.

Thanks to the (sane) advice from a friend, I no longer worry about having small amounts to pay for bills every week.
1% savings rule makes debt reduction less daunting
updated 16 Feb 2018
I have found reducing my mortgage to be far less of a daunting task since I put my savings into baby steps. I focus on saving just 1% of my mortgage total. Whatever number this equates to, I then make as many cuts as I can to save that number - for example, if I'm about to pay $5 for a Frappe, I stop and think how much that $5 is worth to my 1% instead and this makes me change my mind. I would like to think that over the next 10 years I will save this 1% figure 100 times. This can be applied to your mortgage, personal loan, credit card or whatever - all you need to do is work out 1% of your debt to get your own figure. I have found that once you start keeping that number in mind, it doesn't take many exchanges in decisions to get to that 1%!
The real cost of spending
updated 16 Feb 2018
I have turned my love of a good bargain into something far more valuable! Whenever I am tempted to buy something I could possibly do without, I first calculate how much we would save by paying that money into our mortgage instead. For example, I recently saw a new dress on sale for $49.99 - a bargain, right? However, I paid a quick visit to a mortgage calculator website and discovered that if I didn't buy the dress and put that money onto our mortgage instead, it would take a whole month off the loan term and save us $334.39c in interest. In other words, my 'bargain' dress would really cost me over $300!

Looking at my purchases this way has become a really easy and effective way to curb my spending habit. Now I carry a piece of paper in my wallet with various prices on and I can see how much I would really be spending. It's amazing how much stronger my willpower becomes when I check my piece of paper before buying something and find out what its real cost is!
$150,000 paid off mortgage in under 6 years
updated 16 Feb 2018
Simple Savings has become a way of life. I don't have to think about saving or spending now - it just comes naturally. In the past five and a half years, we have managed to pay a whopping $150,000 (principal) plus interest off our mortgage and still live happily and comfortably. This is all due to Simple Savings.

My husband and I have three young children and our combined income is only average, ranging between $50,000 - $70,000 per year. Readers may think 'I could never do that, I would have to go without too much' or 'that's impossible', but this is not true. We don't go without; in fact we feel we do pretty well! I cannot name just one single thing that has helped us to achieve this and still be happy - it is a multitude of tips and hints, all of which can be found on your site. I have always been a Simple Saver, so for me this was not hard, but my husband found not being able to spend money willy-nilly difficult at first. These days, I am proud to say he thinks before he spends and at times even proudly tells me of his smart purchase or why he didn't purchase!

I could go on and on giving examples on how to do what we have done, where we saved money and how we used it more wisely, but that would make a book and to be honest all people have to do is log on to your site, it's all there. Focus on your goals, walk hand in hand with Simple Savings and your dreams can come true.

... and thousands more.

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