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.

Maintain your dryer and extend its life
9 comments
updated Yesterday
Save money on a new tumble dryer and double the life of your old one with this simple maintenance! When my dryer packed up, the handyman came and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. We always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes. He said he had something to show us, so he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it.

This thing is like a mesh - I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like! Anyway - the hot water just lay on top of the mesh - it didn't go through it at all!

He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh and that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. He advised the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electricity bill down) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush at least every six months. This simple step increases the life of the dryer by at least twice as long! I have tried this; it really works and I would recommend it.
120 bickies for $4!
433 comments
updated Yesterday
Make over 120 bickies for just $4.00! This fantastic basic bickie recipe is terrific value, makes loads and has lots of room for variations:

500g margarine
1 tin condensed milk
1 cup sugar
5 cups self-raising flour

Cream sugar and margarine. Add condensed milk and flour. Roll into teaspoon sized balls and press down with a fork. Place on greased trays and bake in moderate oven until golden brown (approximately 10-15 minutes).

Before baking I divide the mixture into five and add the following ingredients for different flavoured bickies:
1. Chocolate chips and glace cherries (chopped)
2. Cornflakes and sultanas
3. Hundreds and Thousands
4. Jam drops
5. Milo and coconut

You could add any number of other things like Rice Bubbles, Smarties, nuts, cinnamon and other spices and so on. The raw mixture can be frozen in balls, just thaw slightly before baking.

From this one batch we made 123 bickies and by my calculations using the cheapest possible ingredients, the whole batch cost just over $4.00 to make!
Gardening in small sites
1 comment
updated Yesterday
The best way to cultivate a garden on a small site, such as a balcony is to use a variation on 'square-foot gardening'. Their website is an invaluable source of information on this subject - visit them at (http://www.squarefootgardening.com/)
Extend the life of your office chair
3 comments
updated 19 Sep 2018
When the gas lift in your office chair starts to drop, don't throw it out, prop it up instead. The first thing to go on office chairs is usually the gas lift mechanism (the thing you use to adjust the height). Then the seat slides down to rest on the bottom ring. It is too low to sit on, but there is nothing wrong with the actual seat. To fix the height, I bought a piece of small diameter plastic water pipe from Bunnings, cut it to size with a saw, lifted the seat off the pedestal and slid the pipe into place. The pipe sits on the bottom ring, supporting the chair sturdily at exactly the right height. This cost $4.20 and the chair has been in use for a further year and is still going well.
Extend the life of your lounge
1 comment
updated 19 Sep 2018
I extended the life of our lounge by around four years just by using stylish cushions. We lie around on our lounges a lot which means the foam on the arms can become too hard if used too often. To protect them I bought two large square European style cushions for lying against the arms of the sofa ($10 each on special), and six small scatter cushions ($8 each) for generally making it more comfortable. The cushions picked up the accent colours of the lounge, so it looked great! The European style cushions are also good for sitting on the floor when playing board or computer games or having extra guests.
Extend the life of glow sticks
1 comment
updated 19 Sep 2018
I have found an easy way to extend the life of glow sticks that doesn't cost me a cent! My kids love glow sticks but they can be picked up cheaply at 15 sticks for about $3 or so they really don't last long. However their life can often be extended by placing them in the freezer when they are not being used. An opened pack of glow sticks has lasted us days, purely because each time they were put away we popped them into the freezer. Once the glow stick warms up it reactivates and glows once again. The kids have had hours of fun and a little money has gone a long way!

Extend the life of sheepskin slippers
9 comments
updated 19 Sep 2018
I saved $40 on buying a new pair of sheepskin slippers by revamping the pair I had for $3.50! We may not all admit it, but many of us like to wear fluffy sheepskin slippers in winter. This year my 'not-so-very-old' slippers were still fluffy on the inside except for the inner sole, which had gone hard and become uncomfortable. Previously when this happened I would just wait out the season and buy a new pair next winter. But I noticed the rest of the slipper was still in good condition and just needed a wash with wool mix. Instead of spending $40 next year on new slippers, I bought a pair of $3.50 sheepskin inner soles from the supermarket and put them in my slippers. They are so comfortable I won't need to buy a new pair next year after all!
Extend your vegetables freshness
4 comments
updated 19 Sep 2018
You can save heaps of money on fresh vegetables by making them last longer - so you don't have to buy them so often! I make my fresh vegetables last up to three weeks or more in the fridge.

I wrap all the vegetables in kitchen paper, ensuring that all parts of them are covered. I place in freezer bags, remove as much air as possible and seal. I replace the paper daily, but do not waste it, just let it dry and use it around the kitchen to clean up spills.

If dark spots appear on the ends of your cauliflower or broccoli, just trim and repeat the process. I have had a head of cauliflower in my fridge for four weeks and it's as fresh as the day I bought it. Beans also stay crisp and green. No wasted money or vegies!
Extend time between shops
1 comment
updated 19 Sep 2018
Supermarket shopping always takes a large chunk out of my pay packet, so now I have a new strategy that saves about $200 every two months.

Every week when I do the shop I do it eight days after the previous one, rather than the usual seven (if you shop fortnighly, change it to every 15 days). After six weeks I've saved myself a week and a whole week's supermarket budget.
Lazy Susans the lazy way!
3 comments
updated 17 Sep 2018
We came up with a great way to recycle and save money on a handy kitchen gadget! My husband and I had talked about how nice it would be to have a Lazy Susan when serving food. It seemed like a good idea but after checking out the prices we couldn't justify buying one so forgot about it.

Until recently when our microwave broke. My husband kept the plate and rollers, saying 'you never know when they might come in handy'. He was right! We decided to see if it would work to use them on our table as a Lazy Susan and found it works a treat!

My overtime really adds up over time!
1 comment
updated 17 Sep 2018
My extra work hours help me pay my mortgage off faster without me even trying! I have the majority of my wage put into our living account each pay period. However I also have my employer put $30 as well as any overtime I may have done directly onto my home loan. By having it paid directly into the mortgage I do not see it and therefore do not miss it. This means every year I make one or two extra mortgage payments with little or no effort!
Home-made 'Up and Go' breakfast drink
7 comments
updated 17 Sep 2018
Breakfast has become cheaper, easier and faster in our house since we started making our own 'instant breakfasts!'
One of our biggest challenges is getting our kids to have breakfast. So one morning I decided to add quick oats to a regular fruit smoothie. This worked a treat, as the oats thickened up the smoothie and kept the kids fuller for longer. Works just like 'Up and Go' but for a fraction of the price! If you have excess smoothie left you can pop the excess into small containers and leave them in the fridge. They then become very thick and can be eaten like a healthy dessert with a spoon!
Bath time bliss
1 comment
updated 16 Sep 2018
We're saving $150 per quarter on our water bill and have restored a little peace to our household too! After many exasperating bath times where the level of the bath water had been run too deep, I came up with the idea of using our four-minute shower timer to time the running bath water. There are now no more arguments with the kids as the water level is the same every time!
Time to get organised
1 comment
updated 16 Sep 2018
By making my own custom designed planner, I've saved money on buying an expensive version - and feel wonderfully organised! Jessica Fisher (Life as Mom) sells an ebook called OLAM (Organising Life As Mum) which contains planning templates for creating your own diary. Here is the link: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/12/organize-your-life-as-mom-new-years-sale.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lifeasmom%2FoGdA+%28Life+as+Mom%29

I have just made my own diary/household notebook and had it spiral bound. It's much easier to use and less bulky than a folder, I have used some of her templates and created some of my own including some from Simple Savings. She recommends laminating sheets that you'll re-use which is a great idea. I have included plain paper after each section so that I can still keep notes and write down my ideas (which I can then tear out if I don't want them). I cut up a free calendar to A4 size and included that too. These are some of the sections I have included:

- Planning: routine checklists and planning pages from OLAM
- Cleaning: including checklists and schedules plus blank paper in case I need it
- Food: weekly meal plans, shopping lists, pantry staples and pages to write down meal ideas
- Finances: budgeting worksheets etc.
- Kids: craft supplies checklist, blank pages for planning activities and for notes
- Events: birthday party planning checklist, emergency supplies lists, blanks pages for planning trips and overnight stays.
Granny's clever tip for bathroom savings
19 comments
updated 16 Sep 2018
This hint will save money in the bathroom and the laundry, it was given to me by a granny who was also a mum to 13 children. In order to save water, washing detergent and money at the children's bath time, she used face-washers instead of towels - one for each child. At first I thought how can you possibly dry yourself with a face-washer? Then I tried it myself - it is truly amazing! The face-washer seems to absorb the water very effectively and as it gets a little damp it works even better. I really feel the cold but have not missed wrapping myself in a bulky, heavy large towel. And the savings in total are significant. There's the cost of large bath towels (around $20 each), detergent, water and dryer costs. And of course there's the time saving of not having to wash, dry and fold large towels. Why not try it for yourself? You'll be surprised how well it works - even if you have only two children.
How to handle a male 'Sad Sally'
1 comment
updated 15 Sep 2018
A helpful budgeting website really helped my Sad Sally husband take responsibility for our finances. He was always grumpy because I was always stressing about money. What he didn't realise was that I was boiling with rage at him for always spending it!

I have learned from experience that men are very sensitive about money because they want to be the main provider. If there is even the slightest hint that their spending habits need reigning in, they feel as though they are being attacked for not providing enough. The result can be spending even more to make them feel more important and macho!

Men respond better when you communicate respect to them, (even when you think they don't deserve it!). If you're struggling with a Sad Sally male, try this tactic. Spend a couple of weeks saying nothing about money and instead just letting him know all the things you respect about him. Give him compliments about his work and his ability to provide for the family. This may be hard sometimes but it will get him to a place where he feels secure around you and can listen and discuss finances knowing that you respect him, rather than avoiding the subject because he knows you don't think he's any 'good' with money.

When you do talk, show him exactly where your money is going; who is spending what and where. We used a budget calculator on a NZ website called www.sorted.co.nz which goes into a lot of detail on spending and helped us see what was happening with our money. From then on, I put the onus on my husband to be responsible for the family budget and making it work for us. It took a bit time and effort but we got sorted with Sorted!
Send an everlasting virtual bouquet for free
9 comments
updated 14 Sep 2018
I have found a brilliant website which enables me to send flowers for every occasion to whoever I like! It is completely free and the flowers never die! You can create your own virtual bouquet or floral arrangement, choosing the flower type and colour as well as the vase, before adding a personal message on the 'card'. Check it out, it's heaps of fun!

(http://www.flowers2mail.com)
A bouquet for a sweet tooth
11 comments
updated 14 Sep 2018
Chocolate strawberry bouquets are a really yummy gift and look beautiful.

Wash strawberries and dry them well. Thread the strawberries onto wooden kebab sticks and then roll the strawberries in some melted chocolate. Place the sticks into a piece of florist's foam while the chocolate sets. You can be really creative with this bouquet - a combination of white, dark and milk chocolate looks fantastic, as do strawberries covered in melted chocolate AND chocolate sprinkles!

When the chocolate has set, wrap the sticks in tissue paper, like you would with flowers, and tie a ribbon around the bouquet. This gift is so easy and quick to make, and everyone loves it!
Clever tip for making iced coffee
1 comment
updated 14 Sep 2018
Here's a great tip for making iced coffee. When you're making filtered coffee, keep the last bits that you'd normally discard and freeze it into ice cubes to use for your iced coffee! It's amazing how many it makes and it means you're not pouring good money down the sink. Works a treat!
Clever storage solution for extra bedding
2 comments
updated 14 Sep 2018
I came up with a smart storage solution to store extra doonas in our tiny house! We regularly have guests or the kids' friends sleeping over but storing the spare bedding was a real problem. Luckily I found the perfect answer! I picked up some large couch cushion covers from Ikea's bargain corner for next to nothing and instead of buying inserts for them, I simply folded the doona to the right shape to fill one cover, and stored a couple of spare bed pillows in the other. They look cute and trendy on my daughter's bed and nobody would guess that they double as bed linen storage!
$40 parrot toy saving shows who's a clever girl
1 comment
updated 14 Sep 2018
Bird owners can save a fortune on bird toys by learning to make their own from www.birdsnways.com. Anyone who owns a parrot will know how expensive their toys can be (around $40 in Big W), and that the birds' strong beaks mean the toys don't last long. This site includes lots of suggestions on how to make your own toys for next to nothing from everyday items like old butter tubs, nuts and bolts and soft drink caps. For bird owners this will be like finding treasure!

http://www.birdsnways.com/birds/ihand.htm
Boxing clever saves $50 a week on fitness
2 comments
updated 14 Sep 2018
I'm saving $50 - $60 per week on my favourite sport! I already knew how to box but didn't want to have to pay for expensive gym sessions. So I placed some notices around my suburb, seeking a boxing/sparring partner who also already knew how to box. I had two responses and now I'm boxing my heart out three times a week at my local park for no cost! All that was required was some gloves, catching pads and inners ($50 all up from eBay) and a little initiative. I downloaded some routines from the Net, which we mix up each session and everyone gets a fantastic workout, without the need for an expensive personal trainer. I'm getting closer to my goal weight each week!
Clever slow-cooker meals
1 comment
updated 14 Sep 2018
Here's a great way to save money and time. By buying your veggies and meat in bulk, you can peel and chop them all up, mix together with spices, marinades, or just leave and divide into smaller portions. Then simply fill re-sealable bags with portions, label and freeze in preparation for future slow-cooker meals! It's the perfect way to save time, money and energy after a hard day... especially if you set the meal to cook the night or morning before!
Clever saucepan storage idea
1 comment
updated 14 Sep 2018
I created my own saucepan lid storage for just a few dollars! I like to hang my saucepans from a rack as I don't have a lot of storage space. To do this, I made some elastic bands from semi-transparent elastic (for $2 metre). They can be made to fit the pan with the right amount of tension to hold the lid on and the pan can be hung up. It'll be clean and dust-free inside when you need to use it again, and no more searching for the right lid!
Be clever with clothes and save
2 comments
updated 14 Sep 2018
A few minutes of my time every Sunday has cut my clothes shopping bill in half! Due to a very tight work schedule last year I started planning my wardrobe for the week on a Sunday afternoon. While this seemed a bit obsessive compulsive to start with, I soon realised that I saved time and money every morning! I no longer had to stand in front of the wardrobe with a lost look each morning, which gave me an additional ten minutes up my sleeve. Each weekly wardrobe planning takes no longer than 15 minutes - even for indecisive characters like me. Every time I planned my wardrobe, I would 'discover' new clothes or combinations, so for some time now, I haven't had the urge to buy clothes because 'I have nothing to wear'. I still buy clothes, but it's now based only on what I really need. The funny thing is, ever since I started doing this, people at work started complimenting me on my 'new clothes'!

... and thousands more.

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