"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - March 2005
This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally and Happy Hanna: Sharing Easter
- Sample of the Savings Vault
- Affordable Easter Fun
- Reuse, Repair and Recycle
- Free - New Tip Sheets! Babies, Groceries, Aldi and Garage sales
- To Ebay or Not to Ebay
- From last month: Retirement Gift
- Help Needed: Vitamins and Help for the Elderly and Disabled
- SAVING Stories: Ready Made Curtains and Kitchen Revamp
I hope you have had a great month. We'd like to make it even better! You can now earn three months free access to the Savings Vault by referring your friends to Simple Savings. How easy is that! Just browse to www.simplesavings.com.au/tellafriend/, fill in the form, and if your friend buys a Savings Vault membership - you get three months of access for yourself!
It is so much fun being able to give things away. I love running this site. I love helping people. Most of all, I love the fantastic 'thank you' emails we receive. Everyone should be able to arrive at work every morning and read emails like these!
"I write in praise of your fantastic Simple Savings website. I find your hints excellent. I have to discipline myself sometimes when I am in the supermarket, but at least I have found that expensive house cleaners are not all that great after all - bicarb of soda and vinegar are much better! I know you will keep up the good work - three cheers for SIMPLE SAVINGS!" (Rosemary Bowler)
"I have been off work for over 12 months following a complicated heart by-pass. I'm slowly recovering now, but after working for 38 years and having the luxury of two salaries, to suddenly finding yourself with one salary and a mountain of bills to pay (not to mention all the out of pocket medical expenses that Medicare and Private Health Insurance does not cover) comes as quite a shock! The information and tips that you have provided have saved my sanity - not to mention my bank account. Thanks to all the money we have saved, my husband and I are going away for an overnight stay in the Yarra Valley. Thanks again for all your help and the wonderful readers who contribute so much." (Gaylene Corp)
"I admit I was a little skeptical about the savings on your site, but I signed up anyway! While browsing last night, I read the hint that recommended using half the amount of an EasiYo packet to make up the same amount. I tried it - and it worked! With just that single hint, I will recoup the cost of my membership in about a year. Anything above and beyond that is going to be a bonus. Thanks - I am no longer skeptical!" (Jennifer Murphy)
"I have just renewed my membership for another year and wanted to let you know that I think you're still the best money saving site around and doing a wonderful job with the Savings Vault. I am constantly amazed by the variety of hints people contribute and I love it when someone has a request and so many members reply with such varied ideas. I often pick up ideas myself from these replies! Keep up the good work and thank you also for this year's great calendar. From one happy simple saving money saver, have a good year. Hopefully I'll be the first to think of a good idea one day and let you all know!" (Briget Taylor)
"I have found this site invaluable and really enjoy the newsletters and updates. I have also found some of the links especially good. We took the advice on your calendar for Valentines Day and shared an inexpensive but wonderful evening together. Thank you. You're doing a great job and obviously lots of others are also reaping the benefits from it!'" (Lisa Teasdale)
PS. Remember, the special goes until 11pm Tuesday March 29. Click here to order. If you want to fax or post your order to us please print the order form before the deadline so it has the special price printed on it.
Have a wonderful month!
1. Sad Sally and Happy Hanna: Sharing Easter
The door to the office was flung open and Sad Sally breezed inside with a radiant smile. She was returning from her lunch break with a sandwich and several bags full of shiny chocolate Easter eggs. Happy Hanna had been sitting at her desk, eating last night's leftovers and using her break time to make Easter presents. She was feeling rested, relaxed and very chirpy.
Sad Sally flopped exhausted into her chair. "Look at what I got today!" she gloated. "I just couldn't resist."
Happy Hanna smiled, "Wow! That is a lot of chocolate. Can I pinch some?"
"No! They're for my kids. They are just going to love me for this!" Sad Sally looked down at the massive array of eggs she had just bought and suddenly felt a twinge of doubt. "You don't think I may have bought too many? They were so shiny and appealing - I couldn't help myself."
Happy Hanna smiled, "Of course not. They will love them."
"I do hope so. My son Jim has been so grumpy at me lately. You should have heard what he said last night - he said I didn't even care about him! He said that my work was more important to me than my family. Can you believe it? He's the reason I'm always working overtime, so I can buy him the things he likes! How could he say such a thing? Do you think these eggs will help make up for it?"
Happy Hanna managed a half hearted smile as she tried her best to comfort Sad Sally. As she looked around, Sad Sally noticed the paper, toys and baskets laid out in front of Happy Hanna. Sad Sally asked, "What are you doing?"
"Making gift baskets", said Happy Hanna; grateful for the change of subject.
"Wow, they look cool. Sometimes I wish I was more like you.... " she muttered thoughtfully. But Sad Sally's remorse was brief. She quickly wolfed down her $8.00 gourmet sandwich and announced, "That's better. Boy, I'm stuffed! I'll get back to work then."
Who are you most like? Hanna or Sally? Which person would you like to be?
2. Sample of the Savings Vault
This newsletter is a tiny sample of the amazing things you can learn by becoming a Savings Vault member. There are over 7,000 things you could be doing to help your budget straight away!
Happy Hanna is happy because she is careful with her money and has lots of free time. Sad Sally wastes a lot of her money. She doesn't know any better.
If you waste your money you are wasting your time. If you have to spend all your time trying to make up for the money you wasted, life will pass you by.
If you are not already a Savings Vault member, then what are you waiting for? Plug the hole in your wallet immediately before any more cash escapes!
I know the Saving Vault works. I know it can help you. Please give it a go. It only costs $47 per year. To order go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
3. Affordable Easter Fun
Have a ball on any budget with some fun tips from the Savings Vault.
Turn cooking chocolate into great Easter presents
For Easter, buy some cooking chocolate and melt it into shapes or moulds. These make great Easter gifts, and are a lot cheaper than buying Easter bunnies and eggs.
Recycle yoghurt containers for Easter baskets
In preparation for Easter, I collect and clean empty yoghurt containers (200 gram size) until I have enough to hold all the eggs. I then print out drawings of bunnies or chickens from the Internet, cut them out and glue them to the outside of the containers. The drawings can be printed in black and white to save money on colour printing, and coloured with pens, crayons or coloured pencils. Glitter pens and acrylic paint can also be used to decorate the containers. Then, shred cellophane or coloured paper as filler for the containers (brightly coloured pages from old magazines work just as well). I buy small eggs from Crazy Clarks or similar cheap shops (children don't seem to notice that it's not expensive chocolate) and fill the containers to overflowing with the eggs.
Wrap in clear cellophane and tie with curling ribbon bought from Crazy Clarks, Dollars & Cents, The Warehouse or Silly Solly's - they're much cheaper than other stores.
Lollies and Strawberries in Chocolate
As Easter eggs are so expensive and the chocolate is mostly of poor quality, I buy a few bags of mint leaves, bananas, Chicos, raspberries (and anything else I see on special). I then buy one packet of Nestle's Melts (very yummy). I melt them down and dip half of the lolly in the chocolate, which goes a long way. I then put the chocolate-covered lollies in cellophane or little boxes and give them to everyone for Easter.
Not only is it cheaper, but my two-and-a-half-year-old loves helping and others know that we have taken the time to make them something. They taste great! If I go to a barbecue or similar, I do the same with a punnet of fresh strawberries.
Colour eggs using food colour and vinegar
My son had an Easter party at school last year and each child was asked to supply a plate of food. I like to try and contribute something healthy, so I hard-boiled some coloured eggs. The best way to get really bright colours is to add food colour and vinegar to the water while boiling and then to leave the eggs to cool in the water overnight. This resulted in really bright eggs that the children loved and none were left over. Who said kids always go for junk food? It cost me only the price of the eggs (which I bought from the egg farm for half the supermarket price). I had the colouring and vinegar in the pantry.
4. Reuse, Repair and Recycle Month
Reusing items is a great way to save you money. This month, before you throw anything in the bin, stop and think to yourself, 'Can I find another use for this item?'. The savings will snowball. Here are some of the great ideas from the Savings Vault to inspire you.
A bit of dye - a whole new wardrobe!
I saved myself several hundred dollars on a new wardrobe, by spending $18 on black and blue dyes - and a Sunday afternoon in the laundry!
I had several tops, pants, jackets and socks that were in good condition but worn out colour wise. I was about to send them to St Vincent's but decided to buy some clothes dye instead. Now they look great and I feel like I have a brand new wardrobe, and in some cases they look better than the original colour!
I also had several pants and skirts that had small belt loops. I don't wear belts with these clothes, so I removed these belt loops. Not only do the clothes look better without the bulky loops, I also look slimmer.
Recycle expensive vacuum bags
Paper vacuum bags can be very expensive, so I recycle the ones I have by using metal food tongs to empty the bag out once it is full. This way, I can re-use the bag up to three times before having to replace the bag.
I have hung the tongs next to the outside rubbish bin so that they are always on hand, as the tongs are also good to use for emptying out the bin of any items stuck to the bottom without getting your hands dirty/smelly.
Repair your mobile phone
Repairing your mobile phone instead of buying a new one can save you a lot of money. People think that once their phone starts to play up they need to upgrade their plan or buy a new phone. This is wrong. For example, a new battery is a one-off fee of $30, but a new phone plan can cost $700 over two years. So before you throw out your old phone, search the Yellow Pages for a mobile phone repairer to see if they can help you.
5. FREE - New Tip Sheets
Help a friend by printing out some of our new Free Tip Sheets. We have redesigned and updated some of our old tip sheets to make it easy for your friends to join our free newsletter and help you earn an extra three months free membership if they join the Savings Vault. Go to the link below and view the new tip sheets. You will notice down the bottom of the tip sheet is a form for your friends to fill out. Write your name on the sheet as the referrer before you give one to anyone, so if they ask to join our free newsletter and then the Savings Vault you will get the credit. Print them out to share with your local Playgroup, Business Meeting or just casual coffee with the girls - you will be helping your friends and you might even get a bonus membership!
Get the most out of shopping
Everyone can use this tip sheet to get more food for less money. There are tips for buying in bulk, comparison shopping, doing your homework, watching the scanner, getting rainchecks, buying online, when to shop, reduced goods, impulse shopping, the corner shop and being flexible.
How to lower your baby bills
There are so many ways you can save money when you have a baby. You will love this tip sheet. If one of your friends has just had a baby, print her a copy of this tip sheet. She will save thousands of dollars! There are tips to save on nappies, dummies, nappy liners, buckets, powder and bags, baby wipes, shampoo, food and even breastfeeding.
Planning an affordable wedding
Learn how to plan a magnificent wedding while saving money on the invitations, decorations, music and venue hire, food, gifts for the guests, dresses, shoes, cars and even the honeymoon.
Guide to Shopping at Aldi
Aldi is a great store but the first time you shop there can be a bit of a shock. So we have put together a tipsheet to help make your first visit enjoyable.
To view and/or download the tip sheets: www.simplesavings.com.au/tipsheets/
6. To eBay or Not to eBay
Is eBay (TradeMe in NZ) cheap or expensive? Does eBay cost you money or save you money? What is your experience with eBay? I have been experimenting for the past year and found some items are a great bargain, such as buying kids toys in bulk; but other items are really expensive. What do you think of eBay? Is using eBay good for the bank balance? How do you get the best out of eBay? We would like to hear of some of your best and worst experiences. Here are a few already in the Vault.
eBay Items Can Be Overpriced
eBay can be great for finding all kinds of things cheaply. There is also great quality to be had, but some people are not so honest. There is an item up for auction at the moment that states it is worth $129.95. There is only one problem - I bought it at K-Mart three weeks ago for $39.99 without paying postage costs! Please be careful. My daughter loves Disney Princess items and some of them are cheap and in great condition on eBay, so when I bought the exact bedhead they were advertising for below half the price I was shocked and felt compelled to warn you!
Second-hand Levi's on eBay Saved Me $200
I was recently shopping for some new jeans (with birthday money) and would have preferred to treat myself to some Levi's. After seeing the price tag though, I changed my mind. Later that day I was surfing around on eBay and found some second-hand Levis. I put bids in and won two pairs. The total cost of two pairs of Levis, including delivery, was $32.80 - a saving of over $200!
Check Postage Price First
I was really chuffed recently when I won an auction for a book I wanted that cost just $1.00 - however when I went to make the deposit, I realized that the seller wanted $5.00 postage! It was still a bargain and cheaper than buying elsewhere, but I was a bit annoyed that the postage cost was five times more than the item.
7. From last month: Retirement Gift
Last month, Amanda Jonats asked:
"My future father-in-law is retiring this year in May and we are trying to think of affordable gift ideas that will also be significant to mark the occasion. One of his dreams is to travel around Australia, but even with donations from a family of five this will not be possible. Does anyone have any great ideas or suggestions?"
We received some wonderful and thoughtful gift suggestions and ideas. We hope it gives you inspiration Amanda! Here is a sample of some of your wonderful contributions.
A memorable signed photo frame
Target (and possibly K-Mart) currently have a large (approximately 70 cm x 70 cm) photo frame with an area in the centre to mount a regular sized photo. Around the photo is a silk-like material on which everyone signs and writes their best wishes.
I have seen these used at weddings (as gifts for the couple) and at a funeral (as a token for the bereaved family) and they are stunning. They would make a great retirement gift. Perhaps you have a photo of the person in question at work in their younger years, or of the team they currently work with.
Discount airfares using current specials
An idea for a retirement travel gift might be for various family members to buy him discount airfares for a couple of destinations (you could give him a handmade travel voucher for a future mystery trip if there are no current specials). Virgin and Jetstar have big sales from time to time. You can sign up for newsletters that will advise you of sales. We recently bought Brisbane-Hobart flights that were $99 one way instead of hundreds of dollars. Flights within your own state can also be cheap, while offering a chance to get away somewhere new. You can make further savings if you have friends or family you can stay with.
Explore Australia book gift
One of our sons gave his father a wonderful book entitled EXPLORE AUSTRALIA 2005 as a retirement gift. Even if your relation cannot afford to travel long distances, with the help of this book he can go on lots of shorter, affordable trips.
Give fuel cards to travel
Buy fuel cards as a gift to help a retiree travel. I know Caltex have them - they are called 'Starcards'. Maybe family members could each contribute and buy $25 cards.
Journal of memories
For a retirement present give a journal which can be passed on to future generations. My mother wrote one and on her passing we all got a copy - it is the best thing. It talks of her life growing up in Scotland and Australia and tells us about all our relatives, dead and alive.
Grandchildren, who were too small to know her or not even born, and great-grandchildren will have the benefit of this journal. It truly is priceless - Mum left a piece of her for all future generations to read. It costs nothing but time and memories.
Subscribe to housesit when you retire and see the world!
My husband is looking to retire in a couple of years, and it's always been my plan to housesit all over the world. Maybe you could get all the details and do up a gift voucher or certificate with the details, phone numbers, websites etc.
8. Help needed: Vitamins and Help for the Elderly and Disabled
This month we have two help requests.
Denise Howard has asked:
"Would anyone have any ideas for disability aids for elderly or disabled? Most aids available are very expensive. Quite a lot of older people have problems especially with holding things due to arthritic fingers etc. I have tried a lot of places, such as Red Cross and others. Any other suggestions would be most welcome."
Carole Patterson has asked:
"I'm a great believer in the use of vitamin/herbal supplements and natural remedies, but they are affecting my finances quite heavily. Has anyone discovered a genuine discounter of these types of products either in the Melbourne area or via the Internet? Thanks in advance for your help."
If you can help Denise or Carole, go to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/.
9. Savings Story: Ready Made Curtains, and Kitchen Revamp
Ready Made Curtains
We saved almost $2,000 on our new curtains, by buying them from the local market (brand new AND ready made!)
When we moved into our new house, I received quotes of around $355 per set of curtains (for each window). I needed six sets so this would cost me $2130 in total!
This just was not an option, so we shopped around and found a market stall which sold a wide variety of brand new factory second ready-made curtains at $25 a set. The grand total? $150 for six sets. A brilliant saving of $1980!
Revamp for Less
We recently replaced and revamped the entire kitchen and other parts of our rental property for just $800. This is how we did it:
A trip to the recyclers:
Solid timber kitchen with bench top and sink.
Bathroom vanity unit
Metal roofing, a post for a new carport, fencing material and two windows.
Stove - $150
Carpet (needed cleaning) - Free
Slate tiles (seven metres) - Free
This enabled us to make some much needed improvements - and the flat looks terrific!
If you have encountered a problem with our newsletter, please email me. I will give your comments immediate attention.
© 2005 AL Consulting Pty Ltd. This publication may be freely redistributed if copied in its entirety. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted with written permission.