"Secrets to Saving Money in New Zealand" Free Newsletter - October 2010

This issue includes:-

  1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Knock Knock, Who's There?
  2. November is 1950's Month!
  3. Kiwi Street Party Update!
  4. Best Member's Blog: This Month's Winner
  5. Best of the Forum: The Good Old Days
  6. Best of the Vault: Simple Living
  7. Cooking with Mimi
  8. Penny's Blog: Proud
  9. Homeopathy Corner: Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  10. From Last Month: Make-up for Teens
  11. This Month's Help Request: First Time Kitchen
  12. Savings Story: The Biggest Loser Wins!

Hello,

How are you going? It's Jackie here! I'm filling in for Fiona this month as she has had her hands extremely full looking after 13-month-old Elora, who has been ill. I'm pleased to say she is now on the mend but the family is having a well earned break until Elora makes a full recovery. Unfortunately Elora's illness meant Fiona was unable to attend the Simple Savings Picnic Celebration, held recently at Lane Cove National Park but Matt and Kirstin from the SS team were there and had a wonderful time meeting members and putting faces to names. The wind blew but this didn't stop everyone from having a terrific weekend! Thanks to all of you who made the trip to Sydney; here's hoping we will ALL be able to make the next one!

A big thank you also to everyone who has sent in wonderful letters like these this month; it's fantastic for Fiona and Matt to read them and know that Simple Savings continues to help and inspire people, no matter what life throws at them!

"I have been using your Bill Payment System for the past two years to pay off a few debts and can say that, using your system, it is much easier to keep my creditors happy and also save at the same time. Thank you!" (Charles)

"I have read the $21 Challenge book from cover to cover (just love it), done my shopping for the Challenge ($20) and planned my meals for the week. I have no doubt I will complete it no problem. An added bonus is I cleaned out my pantry and used up all those Tupperware-type containers to label and store ingredients. By the end of the Challenge I will have saved $230 which I will pay against my credit card, saving interest. It's a win-win situation. I will do the Challenge once a month from now on. Thanks Simple Savings, you're the best!" (Elizabeth Eyb)

"After never being able to afford anything I have just made an amazing discovery. Simply by reading what I could from your newsletters I have been able to save my family $2518 per year on visits to the hairdresser! There are four members in my family; two male and two female. We all have haircuts every six weeks and in addition my daughter and I go the whole hog, colouring our hair several times a year and having our eyebrows waxed every three weeks. I was astounded when I worked it all out that this was costing us $2993 per year as a family! After a discussion at my son's school I learned that one of the mums is a hairdresser that works from home. I figured I had nothing to lose so gave her a go. As it turns out I am far happier with the result from her than I had been at my regular salon for a long time! My whole family now has their hair cuts and various other treatments done by her and it now costs us just $475 per year! Thank you so much for the inspiration - I think I may finally be able to afford a membership now!" (Tara-Louise Wong)

All the best,
Jackie

PS: The closing date for entering our Street Party competition has been extended! More information in this newsletter.

PPS: Coming soon - your FREE 2011 Simple Savings Calendar!


1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Knock Knock, Who's There?

"It's alright, you can stop laughing now," Sally glared at Hanna across her desk. "I'm sorry Sal - but it's just so funny!" Hanna burst into giggles again as she caught sight of Sally's huge pile of mail "I mean - you and Linda are as bad as each other! I can't believe you've been living there all this time and neither of you know ANY of your neighbours!"

"Oh yes, well it's alright for you - you've been living in the same street forever!" Sally huffed. "Swapping vegies and borrowing ladders and all that nice neighbourly stuff is fine when you KNOW everyone. Sorry Hanna but it's not like that for most of us in the real world any more. The good old neighbourhood street party is a thing of the past."

"So bring it back!" grinned Hanna. "You already know Linda - now go and introduce yourself to the rest!" "I couldn't possibly go around knocking on people's doors!" Sally looked shocked. "They'd probably think I wanted to sell them air conditioning or something - or they might think I'm one of those religious callers!" "Then they'll get a very nice surprise when you give them a party invite, won't they?" Hanna winked. "Go on Sal, I dare you!"


2. November is 1950's Month!

Sally is right, times have changed - and not all for the better. Do you have happy memories of your neighbours when you were growing up? Back then we thought nothing of popping round to see them. It didn't matter whether you needed to borrow a cup of sugar, or if you simply felt like a chat; everyone's doors were always open.

But over the years the friendly, open homes which used to make up our neighbourhoods have turned into protective bubbles. Television and the Internet have made us scared to open our front doors. The awful images and scenarios we are subjected to are not actually happening in our backyard - but when we see them on a giant screen we feel as though they are.

It has even made us stop interacting with each other. People are so busy collecting virtual friends on Facebook or watching pretend neighbours on TV that they have lost contact with their real ones. This is a huge shame because real neighbours are incredibly valuable. Real neighbours will call the police if someone suspicious has a truck outside your home. Pretend neighbours on TV will not. Real neighbours will collect your mail, water your garden or feed your cat while you're away. Facebook neighbours or characters on TV will not. Real neighbours will care about you. Pretend neighbours will not. You see what we are getting at? We are isolating ourselves in our own neighbourhoods and this is leaving us vulnerable, lonely and sad.

When we were growing up, our neighbourhoods were safe because there was an unofficial parent co-op. All the parents were tag teaming. The children thought they were roaming free but you could always rely on someone to keep watch. Mums all over the neighbourhood had their own network of backyard fence broadband.

Now technology has taken over and chatting over the fence has been replaced by posting on Facebook and 'tweeting' on Twitter. Instead of sharing, we are buying - and that sucks. We've let money replace friendship and it is costing us much more than just the money. Sure it may seem easier to drive to the shop and buy a bag of sugar instead of borrowing one but it is SO much more fun to get it from your neighbour!

Knowing your neighbours provides you with a sense of security nothing else in this world can provide; that feeling of being comfortable in your own space and place. So this month I want you to go back to the old times. The frugal times, the fun times! This month, choose your real friends over your imaginary 'friends' on TV or cyber friends and 'followers' on Facebook and Twitter. Make the effort to get to know your neighbours. Enter our Street Party competition (below) and bring your neighbourhood closer. Together, we can bring the good times BACK!


3. Kiwi Street Party update!

We have had a fabulous response to our Street Party competition so far! Everyone seems to really love the street party idea - including That's Life! magazine. We're delighted to announce that they have come on board with us and will be promoting the Kiwi Street Party event and announcing prize winners in their magazine over the coming weeks.

PLUS! You now have a greater chance of winning a cash prize for holding your party! Simple Savings and That's Life! are giving away $1000 as a thank you for helping us bring back the good old days. One lucky winner will win $500 cash, with five runner up prizes of $100 up for grabs. But wait, there's more *grin*! We have also extended the closing date for entries to January 6th to give everyone plenty of time to get their stories and photos in after the Christmas rush.

If you haven't got around to organising your street party yet, don't be shy! Here's what Fiona discovered when she and the children went delivering invites in their neighbourhood recently:

"Before we started I was kind of scared and I thought knocking on strangers' doors would be horrible. But it wasn't scary, it was hilarious! The kids and I were trudging around the street like missionaries so when most people came to greet us at their front door they had their 'go away' armour on. I swear every person had their shoulders back and were steeling themselves to politely tell me to leave them alone. But, the moment I said we were organising a street party everything changed. Their shoulders dropped, they took a breath and smiled. It was so predictable that by the last invite I was struggling to keep a straight face. The only bit which was embarrassing was giving my neighbours the official Simple Savings invite with the cartoon of Jackie and I on the front. That part was very strange! I wish we had drawn Sally and Hanna on the invite instead!"

What Fiona experienced is a classic sign of the times. Nobody trusts anybody any more. When she knocked on her neighbours' doors every one of them thought that she must want something from them. This is what we have all become accustomed to over the years. If someone knocks on your door, they must want to sell you something, right? The realisation that Fiona and the kids weren't trying to sell them a space age vacuum cleaner or convert them to another religion but just wanted to get everyone together and have fun for the pure joy of it was so refreshing and is one of the exact reasons having a Street Party is so important.

If Fiona and the kids can do it, so can you! Join us in our street party celebration on Sunday December 5th. Everything you need to get started and enter our competition is available here. You will even find we have made free printable invites for you to hand out to your neighbours.

If you're worried about the potential cost of holding your street party, don't panic! Our specially made invites are designed to request that every household contributes something. As for suitable party food, the Vault is full of fantastic tips and low cost recipes for feeding people of all ages. It has an entire section on parties too! Becoming a Vault member is super easy. Simply click here to join up and take advantage of our 365 day money back guarantee.

So what are you waiting for? Join us and bring back the fun in your neighbourhood!


4. Best Member's Blog: This Month's Winner

Did you know that when you become a Vault member you get to write your very own Savings Blog? We love reading our members' experiences and tips to save money and really appreciate the time and effort that goes into sharing them with other members. As a special thank you, we are now giving away a prize of $100 to the writer of our favourite blog post each month. This month's winners are Rob and B, who have been delighting readers with their beautifully photographed posts of how their garden is growing and all the yummy ways they've been enjoying the freshly picked produce! You can read all their posts here.

Here is this month's winning blog:

Zucchini & Vanilla anyone ??

Thought I would spend the afternoon in the kitchen today.....

Made up a large batch of vegetable sauce to be used in a few different dishes....

I blitz it with the stick blender to use as a Bolognese base, warmed as a chunky sauce for sausages or steak, mixed through some pasta then topped with cheese/bread crumb mix as a pasta bake, & B's Favourite, a sauce for a Chicken Parmigiana using this recipe for the Chicken.

Was a good way to use up all the Zucchinis we picked yesterday....

Dinner was the last of the large Zucchini's 'stuffed' with veg, mince, bacon & topped with cheese...

Very lush even if I do say so myself....

Made up a batch of Vanilla Sweetener as a gift for someone who needs a bit of a pick me up.... Being locked in a house with 5 children & a partner with Chicken Pox for 3 weeks can't be fun me thinks...

Threw in a few beans as well so she can play around...

Coffee anyone ???

Have a great one all......

: )»

Congratulations Rob and B! If you haven't started writing your own blog yet, get typing to be in with a chance to win! Vault members can get started by logging in and going to the 'My Desk' area. If you are not a Vault member yet and would like to start your own savings blog, you can become a Vault member here. Happy blogging!


5. Best of the Forum: The Good Old Days

Remember when Christmas was about the simpler things in life, rather than shopping 'til we drop? Our members are keen to bring back the good old days with Forum threads like these. Take a peek and learn how you can make Christmas fun, simple and stress-free this year!

Your best Christmas memory

The best Christmas memories are ones made of people, not presents. This thread is a lovely reminder of what we should be enjoying this year.
read more...

Friendship and community a cure for shopping

You are only as good as your support team! Rebecca has a fantastic remedy for impulse shopping and gathering support in your community.
read more...

Neighbourhood normality?

A great reminder to what neighbourhoods 'should' be like. Even more reason to get to know your neighbours this Christmas!
read more...

Frugal tips from the pioneers

Using your grandmother's recipe books from the 1950s will have you serving up a feast and feeling like Wonderwoman!
read more...

Oldie but a goodie

Don't throw out that old appliance your grandmother handed down to you, put it to use.
read more...


6. Best of the Vault: Simple Living

Life was pretty good back in the 1950's. More leisure time was spent with family and there was less financial stress. There were no credit cards and borrowing money was avoided except when a loan was required to purchase a home. Refrigerators, furniture and even cars were usually saved up for and paid for in cash. If you couldn't afford to pay cash for a new fridge or lounge chair you simply did without or bought a second hand one. This month, turn back time with these savvy tips from the Saving Vault!

Luxury 'fast' a fun way to speed up saving

An annual luxury 'fast' is a great way to save money and remind us not to take things for granted.

My family has been doing this since I was a child, and I have such fond memories of the fun we had that I have carried the tradition on with my children. For two weeks each year we would live on a ration of basic ingredients and limit other 'luxuries' such as the television, Barbie dolls, and one year even the lights! It really brought to life the situation of many families living in poverty around the world and made us appreciate what we had, plus our bills were much lower for those two weeks. At the end of the fast, all the families would get together and cook up a feast with whatever food was left. What a wonderful way to save money and bond with the family.

Contributed by: Kallie

A fair trade saves a fair amount

Who says you need money to get what you want?

I had an arrangement with a neighbour, who gave me a dozen free range eggs whenever I gave him a pile of egg cartons. I work in a nursing home and when the kitchen staff learned that I collected egg cartons, they started saving them for me. I soon had more cartons than my neighbour could use so I needed to find new markets for my egg cartons!

I posted notes on online forums and community notice boards, stating that I had egg cartons to give away in return for six free-range eggs. I found that everyone is happy to give away eggs in return for egg cartons. I collect between 30 and 50 cartons per week, so I can supply quite a few customers. I save about $6.00 a week and the quality of the eggs is priceless.

This hint is a great example of how you can trade what you have for something you need. It's free and easy to set up with no on-going cost, and the quality of home produce is usually far higher than anything you can buy.

Contributed by: Michelle Baker

Create your own community

I have found that the best way to save money is to stop thinking about what I don't have, and think about the wealth that has been given to me. For instance, while driving to the mall and looking at houses and redecorated front lawns and wishing I could do the same, I say 'I have a FANTASTIC house and am SO thankful we can afford a house of our own'. This works especially well on my way to the mall as then I put myself in a good mindset for what I NEED, not what I see everyone else has but I don't (which leads to impulse buys).

The other thing I think saves the most money is doing your best to create a community around you. Families do not live in the same cities, neighbours don't talk to each other let alone DO things for each other anymore, so break the trend! I have made many new friends with motherhood, many of who do not have family in town. So we baby-sit for each other at no charge, when one has a baby we make dinners for each other in the first month and so on. The husbands let each other know what tools the other has and we borrow rather than buy. When I found out a neighbour wasn't around because he'd died of cancer, I threw a street party so I could get to know my neighbours. We now party twice a year and have even gone to each other's place for dinner.

The best way to save is to turn your negatives into positives, GIVE instead of wanting to get this and that and you'll find very soon you'll have an abundance of things coming back at you!

Contributed by: Bindi Brien

Banning plastic is fantastic

Banning plastic from our home is saving us money and helping the environment. After learning about the harmful chemicals found in some plastics, I decided to stop bringing plastic in to the house. We gave up the regular visits to the $1 shop in favour of fewer quality wooden toys that can be handed down; and we no longer buy bottled drinks carrying our own water bottles wherever we go instead. Plastic bags and containers are also banned. Not only has this saved money but we have decluttered our home too. An all round win.

Contributed by: Emma Perry

Find a frugal friend to save with

My budget is looking better than ever since I found a like-minded friend to keep me on track! One subject we have never usually discussed with friends is money, but last year this changed for me. A good friend and I were putting together a school fund raiser for the PTA and as we spent a lot of time together, the chat came round to finances. We found we had a lot in common with our money worries and also found we had a lot of ideas to share. We now meet fortnightly to bounce ideas off each other and to check how each other is doing. We each now have someone to confide in and to perk us up if we are having a bad week. Our friendship has really benefited and so have our bank balances!

Contributed by: Debra

Love thy neighbour, love the savings

My neighbours and I are trying to cut the cost of pest control in our homes by getting our whole complex sprayed at the same time. I had a problem with cockroaches and learned that my neighbour did too. As we are due to get our whole complex termite inspected she suggested we put it to the vote for the whole complex to be sprayed for cockroaches at the same time. This would dramatically reduce the cost of each house being treated individually. Communicating with your neighbours can save money in other ways too, for example, getting air conditioning installed in several properties at the same time by the same company, then splitting the cost.

Contributed by: Danielle

Ban the gadgets and get your kids back!

I have saved on electricity and restored some balance in our house by banning the electrical gadgets! The habitual scene in our house when the kids came home from school was becoming a concern to us. As soon as they'd dropped their school bags the kids plugged themselves into the TV, computer, stereo or iPods, conversation died and activity was nil! So I took control back and put a ban on anything electrical being turned on within 15 minutes of returning from school. Wow! By the time 15 minutes was up, they were reading books, outside playing or helping me in the kitchen and had all but forgotten about the electrical items. I am not sure exactly how much we have saved, but the kids have definitely benefited from this. Being outside running around, sharing books or playing games together has made for a much, happier household and conversation is back! I look forward to seeing our next electricity bill because I know, even if it is just a little bit smaller, we are all richer.

Contributed by: Sharee Breed


7. Cooking with Mimi

Party recipes have to be one of the most fun things to make! Bring your party or neighbourhood gathering to life with Mimi's inspirational treats.

Beetroot Lime and Honey Dip

(Makes 465g or around the same amount as 3-4 bought dips)

This dip is pretty to look at and divine with plain crackers or crudites. Chill it well before serving. The hint of honey and lime is seductive and beguiling; a wonderful summer dip! This one keeps well for 3 - 4 days.

Equipment:

  • Food processor
  • Scales (optional... a guesstimate is fine for this one!)
  • Tablespoon measure
  • Serving bowls
  • Storage containers

Ingredients:

  • 200g beetroot after draining
  • 100g lite sour cream
  • 150g lite cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp bottled lime juice or equivalent fresh
  • 1 tbsp honey

Place all ingredients in the food processor or blender and process until smooth... that's it!

Pina Colada Dip

Sunshine in a bowl; that's what this one should be called. Reminiscent of languid summer days on holiday, this pina colada dip will have everyone begging for the recipe. Delicious served as a sweet dip with meringues, cubes of madeira cake, or chunks of fruit, or try it as a dessert. Layer it with jelly and madeira cake soaked in juice for a tropical tiramisu, or serve in pretty little dishes with biscotti on the side for a sunshiny after-dinner treat.

Makes the equivalent of approximately six bought dips!

Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large whisk
  • Frypan for toasting coconut
  • Serving bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin crushed pineapple
  • 1 tin coconut cream
  • 150g lite cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp coconut essence
  • 3 tbsp instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1-2 tbsp shredded or desiccated coconut plus 1-2 tsp extra for garnish
  • Meringues, biscotti, fruit chunks for serving

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well with a whisk.

Heat a medium frypan over a medium-high temperature. Add the coconut to the pan, and toss well, until browned. Fold the coconut through the dip and spoon into serving bowl or dishes.

Garnish with extra toasted coconut.

Chill well before serving.

For an 'adults only' treat, add a teaspoon of rum essence or a tablespoon of white rum for authentic Pina Colada flavour.

Home-made Custard

Put your hand up if you buy custard...

... well after seeing how easy it is to make your own, you'll never buy it again. The home-made version tastes better and is much less expensive. You don't even need custard powder! Take a look at the ingredients panel of any bought custard and you'll see it's pretty simple stuff. Milk, starch, vanilla... and so on. As for the different types, we're really just talking different proportions or types of ingredients.

Here's my basic recipe:

These instructions are for one litre of custard. Double, triple or quadruple quantities of ingredients as required.

Equipment:

  • Saucepan or microwave-safe jug or bowl
  • Whisk
  • Small bowl or cup
  • Storage container

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract or vanilla essence
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3 drops yellow food colouring (optional)

Mix the cornflour in a cup with enough of the milk to make a runny paste.

Bring the other ingredients to the boil in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly, or microwave on high in a microwave-safe jug or bowl, until steaming.

Add the paste, continuing to stir with a whisk. Simmer or microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently until thickened.

Refrigerate until required.

Once chilled, this is just like store-bought pouring custard.

To make thick custard, double the amount of cornflour.

To make gourmet custard use half cream and half milk or even all cream - decadent!

To make chocolate or brandy-flavoured custard, add cocoa powder or brandy essence to taste. Add a little at a time. You can always add more, but you can't take it out once added!

For skim milk custard use skim milk in place of full cream milk.

This is also great made with any powdered milk and you can't taste the difference!

Chicken, Camembert and Cranberry Bon-Bons

This is a real crowd pleaser. Make tiny ones for cocktail servings or make them larger for a special lunch or dinner. You'll outdo the chicken specialty stores with this home-made Christmas version of a family favourite.

Note: These are a little labour intensive, but well worth it. They can be made ahead and popped into the oven whenever required. They'll freeze well for at least a month.

Makes 12-16 cocktail size or 6-8 meal size bon-bons

Equipment:

  • Large bowl
  • Spoon for mixing
  • Baking trays
  • Scissors
  • Baking paper
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp almond meal, almond flakes or almond slivers
  • (Please note: If you have a food processor, you can use 2 chicken breasts, one slice of bread and the almonds, processing until minced)
  • 1 jar cranberry sauce
  • 1- 2 rounds Camembert cheese
  • Filo pastry
  • 1-2 tbsp butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shallots
  • 4 tbsp plum jam (optional)

Bring the camembert cheese to room temperature and remove the soft cheese from the rind. If you have a food processor you can process the whole cheese until smooth. Place in a small bowl and combine with the cranberry sauce. If only using one cheese then halve the amount of cranberry sauce.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken mince, breadcrumbs, egg and seasoning.

With a dessertspoon (for cocktail sized servings) or a tablespoon (2-3 tablespoons of mixture for meal sized servings), place a scant spoonful of the chicken mince mixture into the palm of your hand. Form a little ball, and poke a hole into the middle of it. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the camembert and cranberry mixture into the hole and form the mince around it, enclosing it completely. Gently form into a sausage shape. Continue until all the mince is used.

Chill the mince shapes for 30 minutes.

While the mince is chilling, preheat the oven to 175C fan forced or 180C normal. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Take the shallots and cut them where the stem turns from green to white. With a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, slice each shallot from top to bottom to give you two long strips. Cut these in smaller strips to yield 8-10 thin strips from each shallot. You'll find that if you snip at one end and gently tear, that the shallot will come away into thin strips on its own, just like gift ribbon. Immerse the strips into a bowl of hot water. They will curl up within a few minutes. These will be used as ties on either end of the cooked bon-bons.

Remove the filo pastry from the packaging and cover with a damp tea towel.

Form a production line with the mince balls, filo pastry, cooking spray and baking sheets.

For cocktail bon-bons:

Carefully remove one sheet of filo pastry from the pile, covering the remainder with a damp tea towel to prevent it drying out. Don't worry if it tears or has little holes as you pull it away as you will fold it in four and it won't matter. Spray the sheet of pastry with cooking spray or brush with melted butter. Fold in half, and half again to form a small rectangle. Place one small mince shape in the centre of one short side of the pastry sheet, leaving a space either end of the little sausage, and roll it up. Place seam side down onto a lined baking tray, and pinch the empty side bits in from the edge, forming a little bon-bon shape. Once cooked, you will tie strips of shallot around these to make them look really festive.

Repeat with mince and pastry until the mince shapes are all used.

For meal sized bon-bons:

Use two sheets of filo pastry for each bon-bon, spraying between sheets. Fold in half and fill as detailed above, using 3-4 tablespoons of the mince mixture.

Brush each bon-bon with a little melted butter to enhance browning.

Bake the bon-bons at 180C until golden brown. This will take 30-50 minutes depending upon your oven, the size of the bon-bons and whether they are being cooked from frozen or thawed.

Remove from oven and tie with strips of shallot at either end. Serve warm or cold.


8. Penny's Blog: Proud

11th October 2010

It's 5.00am and I've been awake for at least three hours, just the same as every night for the last week or two. I can't help it, my head is spinning and my brain won't stop! For those of you who haven't seen the Forum thread - we have sold! Even more exciting, we leave for Whangamata in just FOUR days' time! I can't believe it's finally happening but it is. In the end we accepted a big drop on our house price but we met the market and as far as we were concerned it was worth it. Besides - we still sold the property for almost twice the price we paid for it in 2003. Not bad for seven years' work!

At first everyone thought we were mad to accept such a low price - even our agent! But I think in the end she really respected us for following our dream. The way the market has been in our area the past 12 months, the average property has been selling for an average of $100,000 below the asking price, so it's really not that unusual. Sure - we could have held on for more money. We could have said no and still been sitting here in 12 months' time waiting for a buyer to come along. And who knows? We could have ended up selling the place for even less! Nope, we know in our hearts that we did the right thing. The couple who have bought our home came to visit yesterday and it was like talking to another version of me. The wife is even English like me! What I loved, however, was when she said that she knew she wanted the place as soon as she walked in because it had such a warm and homely vibe. That's exactly how I felt when I first walked in seven years ago! They can't wait to get into the vegie garden and begin raising their own sheep, beef and pigs. I hope they will be just as happy here as we have been!

Of course, we wouldn't have been able to accept the buyers' price if we hadn't been able to. It's going to bring some new challenges in the coming months. For starters, our teensy wee mortgage is now going to be almost double! It's still not going to be huge by many people's standards but it's going to take some sensible money management on our part. We're going to have to find an extra $900 a month, which is no small achievement but you know what? We can do it. We KNOW we can do it. If we weren't Simple Savers I honestly don't think that we could but knowing what we know now, we're confident that we will get by just fine.

Even our new bank manager in Whangamata reckons we will be amazed by how much we can save there and I'm really looking forward to getting started! One of the first things I want to do is see how many days in a row I can go without using my car. For the first time, everything we need will be within walking distance - the school, the shops - and of course, the beach! This alone should save me between $60 and $120 a week on petrol! Another bonus is there are no fast food chains for miles, so we will all be healthier and better off in that department too! As anyone who has spent time in Whangamata will know, if you're shopping for non-essentials you pay Whangmata tourist prices, which are top whack and right up there with the big cities, so anything beyond the bare basics will have to be purchased elsewhere. With the next main town at least half an hour away over a winding coastal road, I can't envisage me making that journey too often! We will just have to content ourselves with all the free fun available in our new location. I have a feeling we will be far from deprived!

Over the moon as we all are; it's a time of mixed emotions. For the past two weeks our house has seen a never ending stream of teenage boys, all keen to spend as much time as possible with Liam and Ali. It's been noisy, great fun and also very expensive to feed them all! I don't think we've ever had to do a supermarket shop twice in one week before! But what the heck; memories are priceless and it's a great way to empty the freezer and pantry before we go! This week has also been tinged with a fair amount of sadness as we have had to say goodbye to not one, but two of our dogs. Ella, our soppy old Lab has been living on borrowed time for quite a while. She has suffered from joint problems for years as many Labs do but has been rapidly getting worse and we knew that she would not be making the move with us. It has been a heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep but when the quality of life is gone and you see nothing but struggle and distress in our beautiful girl's eyes every time she moves, all you want to do is end her pain.

We've known for some time that Ella's eleven years with us would soon have to come to an end but we didn't know we would also be saying goodbye to another little old lady (in dog years!) You may remember me mentioning a while back that we were going to have to find a new loving home for 12 year old Nushka, the mini Jack Russell we rescued three years ago. We were fortunate to find a lovely couple who couldn't wait to take care of her in her old age and provide her with all the comforts she was accustomed to. Sadly, however, fate stepped in when we found a large lump under Nushka's jaw just a few days before she was due to go to her new home. The vet's examination showed she had a blocked salivary gland. This was no small problem; it was going to mean a major operation for our tiny girl from which she would take months to recover. It was going to mean a great deal of stress for both her and her new owners but even harder to cope with was the cost of the operation. Removing the gland was going to cost between $1000 and $2000! We just couldn't afford it and neither could her new owners. On top of that, there was no guarantee that the operation would be successful and the gland on the other side was also starting to show signs of swelling. There was also a very good chance that Nushka would not even survive the operation, due to her age. So once again we had to make the very difficult decision to put our wee girl to sleep. The boys took it very hard as none of us had seen it coming and hadn't been prepared to say goodbye. We brought Nushie home and she is now at peace in a sunny spot in the orchard under a Loquat tree, next to Dudley, Tui and Percy; the other beloved pets we have lost during our time here.

So this Friday we will be making the big trip over the hill; with Hubble and Minnie, our three cats and two tanks full of tropical fish in tow. At least half a dozen times a day I look around our home and our land and think "how on earth can we bring ourselves to give this all up?' The space, the views, the peace. But we're not really going to lose out. We're simply exchanging one love for another. Our work at "Shambles' is done and we're ready to move on. Our dear little beach house is waiting for us and we can't wait. As a reminder of our years of happiness and hard yakka transforming our little patch of paradise, we made a slide show video, showing what it was like the day we moved in and how we cleared the chaos bit by bit. Accompanied by one of our favourite songs, you can watch our 'Farewell to Penny's World' video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1blR_KPpv5c. I have to admit it makes us feel a bit emotional watching it; especially when we look back and realise just how much we have achieved during our time here but it also makes us feel very proud. We also feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in not one, but two beautiful places. It's time to swap our lake view for a sea view. I'm going to be offline for a few days while we madly pack but I'll look forward to catching up with you next week - from our new home!

20th - A new patch of paradise

27th - Small house, happy life


9. Homeopathy Corner: Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety affects everyone at one time or another. For some it is nothing more than mild anticipatory anxiety while others are paralysed with fear or feel as if their heart will stop. The good news is homeopathy can help! In this article, Fran Sheffield shares some of the most effective remedies for calming the nerves and putting an end to crippling panic attacks.

To read Fran's article go here:

http://homeopathyplus.com.au/anxiety-and-panic-attacks-tamed-by-homeopathy/


10. From Last Month: Make-up for Teens

Last month Kelly asked:

"I'm interested to know what other mums do when your 14 year old daughter suddenly develops an interest in make-up and skin products. I use cheap make-up products from the supermarket but she has quite sensitive skin and I'm not keen on buying really expensive make-up products which might not be any good. What do other teenagers use, or what do you buy your teenager and how do you cope with the cost of this added expense? What would you recommend that is not too harsh on the skin, as well as the wallet?"

Thanks to the many members who have shared their excellent tips for making teens look beautiful on a budget! Here are some of our favourites:

Less is more savings on teenage make-up

Help your teenagers save money on make-up by telling them that they are already beautiful without it and that less is more. That way you limit what they spend and the make-up they do buy will last longer. Most of us end up with too much make-up we don't use, so teach your teenager early on that all she really needs is a basic foundation, a small palette of the colours she likes, mascara and lip gloss.

Contributed by: Shane Hayes

Cheap supermarket lipstick better for your health

Buying supermarket lipstick that doesn't last as long is cheaper and better for your health! Lipsticks that are 'long lasting' contain arsenic so I buy cheap supermarket lipsticks that don't last long. You have to apply them more regularly and they finish sooner, but it means you can buy new colours more often.

Contributed by: Helen Ward

Make-up a wish list and buy on special

I save money on make-up for my teenage daughters by keeping a list of suitable products and snapping them up on eBay or from supermarkets and chemists when they are on special. When my daughters first got into make-up, we trekked off to various chemists and Myer and tried different brands of skin care and make-up, picking up samples wherever we could. This gave me a 'wish list' which I refer to when buying presents. This saves me a lot of money and keeps my daughters happy too!

Contributed by: Sandra Latter

Yes for BYS cosmetics

BYS is an excellent range of make-up which offers the most up to date colours at affordable prices. Check out www.bys.com.au for the full range and for your nearest stockist. I'm a professional make-up artist and find it a good range with most items priced between $3.00 and $10. Most products last a long time and those that don't, such as lip gloss, can be replaced for $3.00 a tube. I find that most brands are okay on most skins as long as you buy the right colours for your skin tone. Make-up is so much fun for teenagers; it would be worth your daughter looking up some make-up styles for teenagers to give her ideas and inspiration for her own look.

Contributed by: Rachael Campbell

'Nude' foundation offers clear value

'Nude by Nature' which you can buy from Myer is a good quality, value-for-money foundation for sensitive skin. A $30 tub easily lasts three months when used every day. You'll need a kabuki brush to apply it with and although they are around $20 each, one brush will last many years. For blush and eye shadows I find Maybelline is okay for quality and affordable. You can get it in most chemists. With mascara you are better off paying $20 to $30 for a good quality brand (I use MAC PlushLash from Myer) because it will not clump, it will wash off easily with soap and water and will last much longer than cheaper brands.

Contributed by: Harmony Steel

Mix up brands to suit your skin and budget

The trick to saving money on make-up is to mix expensive brands with affordable ones. There are some things you can't skimp on (like concealer and foundation), so once you have found one that suits your skin type and tone stick to it. I find that Body Shop tinted moisturiser is good as a foundation and although mineral powder foundations are expensive, a little goes a long way. Spending on these key items can be balanced with cheaper items to fill the rest of your make-up bag. Some Avon products such as eyeliner and mascara are cheap but effective.

Contributed by: Peter Welford

Make-up by the book helps you wise up and save

For an insight into the best cosmetic and skin care brands read 'Don't go to the cosmetics counter without me', by Paula Begoun. She reviews most of the well known brands and gives recommendations for the best products within different price ranges. She has changed my views about the expensive moisturiser I've been using and will certainly buy something different when the current bottle is finished, so this book has been a definite money-saver for me! I found a copy at my local library.

Contributed by: Joanne Corbell

Be a belle on a budget with Bellaboo Contributed by: Ann Sayer

Free mineral make-up trial kits Contributed by: Joanne Barnes

Australis kind to eczema-prone skin Contributed by: Christobel Say

Two-weeks of free samples from Body Shop Contributed by: Tania Schmock

Ask make-up manufacturers for free samples Contributed by: Helen Beez


11. This Month's Help Request: First Time Kitchen

This month Tegan asks:

"I will be moving out on my own for the first time and want to buy some kitchen equipment that will help me be a whiz in the kitchen. I have been putting money aside for this purpose but am unsure what I should buy. I like to cook from scratch but there are so many appliances and gadgets out there and I won't have much bench or cupboard space so I don't want things that will take up too much room or not get used at all. What do you recommend that are the kitchen 'staples' of appliances/gadgets?"

If anyone has any suggestions which could help Tegan, please send them in to us here.


12. Savings Story: The Biggest Loser Wins!

I have shaved a whopping eight years off my mortgage! As a Simple Saver I am determined to save as much money as possible every week to put towards my mortgage. My good friend is just as dedicated as I am to achieving the same goals, so every year we take note of the amount we owe on our respective mortgages and we begin our 'biggest loser competition'!

We aim to see who can take off the biggest percentage of their loan throughout the course of the year. It doesn't matter that our mortgages are not the same size because it works on the PERCENTAGE of money paid off the outstanding amount, not the dollar value. Every week we motivate each other with tales of how we have paid off a tiny bit more of our mortgage and what percentage that is. The exciting thing is that it really does add up! Since we started this I have paid off an additional 7% of my mortgage, which amounts to an unbelievable EIGHT years of mortgage repayments! At the end of the year the winner gets a $25 gift card from 'the loser' to spend at a shop of their choice - but the real prize is the amazing savings we've been able to achieve. Who wouldn't like the opportunity to live in their home for eight years for free?!

Contributed by: Joanne McManus