"Secrets to Saving Money" Free Newsletter - March 2016
This issue includes:-
- Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Absolutely Fabulous
- March: If in Doubt, Go Without
- COMPETITION: Impossible Promises
- The 100 Million Dollar Challenge
- Best of the Vault: Where There's a Will, There's a Way!
- Best of the Forum: Celebrations and Commiserations
- Best Members' Blog: How to Find Clearance Items
- Best of SS Facebook: Yippee, I'm Debt-Free!
- Saving Story: House Sitting Has Enriched My Life - and My Wallet!
After last month's newsletter we have been swamped with great hints. Thank you! We've had a great time reading and editing them all. If you can think of any more tricks, please send them in to us here.
We also received some beautiful, heart melting compliments. I've chosen to share this one with you because Linda isn't just thanking me. She is thanking every single person who contributed, shared, helped out and bought the $21 Challenge book. Together we changed Linda's life.
"It all started with a simple little hint in a book called 'The $21 Challenge'; inventory what you have in your pantry first.
"We went from two incomes, debt and struggling to one low income, money in the bank and looking for our first investment property. Today we saw a bank manager to see if we could get a small amount of money to cover the final amount of the cost of the property we want to buy. We will have the property paid off in less than the 10 years we have until retirement and then we will move into it. The bank manager was very impressed and doesn't see an issue and we should have official approval in a few days. We're still spinning from that news!
"We will literally be getting our sea change, from the mountains to the sea side.
"I am writing to you so that you can share this with those just starting out, to let them know it is the simple things that work and if you can get your priorities sorted you can have whatever you want as long as you are willing to wait for it. We have been working through debt and difficult times and we can now see our future with a big banner saying 'CONGRATULATIONS' hanging over our new home to be.
"We live on a strict budget but never feel as if we are missing out on anything; well maybe when one of us has forgotten to buy the ice cream and it's a hot day! I used to allocate $150 per month on groceries for the two of us and $150 per year for gifts (50 required per year) and postage but with the increase in the size of our family and the increased price of meat we decided to up the amount to $200 per month (groceries and gifts). We don't spend all of this so I will probably lower it again in a month or so; it will assist us paying the house off faster. We use public transport and I am getting quite good at finding cheap veg like beetroot and bottling it. I love the market's cheap table. We have money put straight into our savings just like a bill and keep our electricity bill between $200 and $400 per quarter - not bad for the mountains in winter!
"Thanks for that bit of advice in your book.
Have a great month. :-)
All the best,
P.S. If you know someone who could benefit from the $21 Challenge book, we only have about 500 left and we will not being doing a reprint. After they are gone, we are switching to electronic only copies. To buy a hard copy of the book, click here.
1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: Absolutely Fabulous
It had been a great day, Hanna smiled to herself. She'd enjoyed a lovely dinner and maybe a little too much red wine. But, the kids were in bed and now she had the iPad. Almost immediately a notification flashed up from Facebook. What had Sally tagged her in now? It was an online clothing shop. "This would look fabulous on you!" the message popped up.
Hanna sighed. It was really past her bedtime - but she clicked on the link. Sally was right, it WAS exactly her style, and such a stunning shade of pink! "Hmm," Hanna pondered. She couldn't try it on, but going by the photo it looked a perfect fit. "What the heck," she thought. "Treat yourself, Hanna!" So she bought it, turned off the iPad and went to bed.
...TWO MONTHS LATER
Hanna was surprised to find a parcel from Singapore in the letter box. She had forgotten all about her hot pink purchase but now she couldn't wait to try it on. This was going to look great! She slid the top over her head and was alarmed to find it stuck. Wasn't it supposed to be a slouch fit? She wriggled and squirmed her way into the garment until finally it was on. She turned to admire her reflection in the mirror and... gazed at herself in horror. "Oh Hanna, what on earth were you thinking?" She shook her head. "Red wine and online shopping REALLY do not mix!"
2. March: If in Doubt, Go Without
Who would have thought it? Hanna, of all people, falling victim to a shopping blunder! But, let's face it, most of us have been there at one time or another. When we are feeling low, stressed, sick, fuzzy headed or, dare we say, tipsy, our judgement is impaired and we are at our most vulnerable. And, as Hanna found out the hard way, these days you don't even have to set foot in a shop to get pulled in to the advertisers' stories. I say 'stories' because that's really what they are; they are spinning us a tale.
Think about some of the advertisements we are commonly shown - do any of them actually deliver what they promise?
- Do tampons make you feel so free you want to bounce along the beach or do a cartwheel?
- Do Happy Meals make your life easier?
- Do fizzy drinks bring you friends or guarantee you a good time?
- Do credit cards give you financial freedom? Or do they plunge you further into debt?
- Does driving a four-wheel drive bring you freedom from the daily commute?
- Do flashy new cleaning products make cleaning any more exciting or fun?
- Will shampoo give you hair like the girl in the ad?
- Does the food in the box ever look like it does in the photo?
- Is the beautiful woman in the ad actually using the moisturiser she's selling?
- Is the dress on the Photoshopped model going to look the same on you?
When you think about it, it's actually ridiculous. Yet, ads like these are so convincing, even Hanna falls for them from time to time. So what can we do to protect ourselves?
Stop and Think. Ah yes, the old Simple Savings adage! But it works. Hanna did acknowledge that she couldn't try her garment on before buying - but she took the risk anyway because her judgement was impaired. Had she stopped and thought for a moment about the full implications of her purchase - the likely quality of the fabric, where it was being sent from, the possible differences in sizing, not to mention whether she actually NEEDED it - she would probably never have clicked the 'buy' button. Stopping and thinking is the single most effective way of protecting yourself from falling for advertising tricks and throwing good money away.
Wait 24 hours. The majority of the time the mistakes we make are done through impulse. If Hanna had waited 24 hours and then looked at the outfit again with a clear head, she would most likely not have bought it. Our thoughts and priorities change so quickly, even one day can make a huge difference to our purchasing decisions. By then, many 'must-have' items have lost their power over us and are not important any more.
Have a wish list. We all want stuff. But keeping a wish list is a great way to determine how many things are things we really want, or just things we THOUGHT we wanted. There's nothing wrong with adding as much to your wish list as you like! But, as with waiting 24 hours, delaying your purchase gives you powerful protection from needless purchases. You'll be surprised each time you revisit your wish list how many items you have moved on from wanting and can be scratched off.
Remind yourself of your goal. What is it that you REALLY want? A holiday? To be mortgage-free? Every time you fall for an advertiser's ploy and buy something you didn't know you needed five minutes before, you take another step backwards from achieving what is really important.
Nobody is immune from advertising all of the time. But once you open your eyes to some of the impossible promises they make, you are a lot less likely to be fooled. To help you stay strong and to remind you to stop and think, we have made you some Savings Triggers for your wallet. Current members can download them here.
(NB: The Savings Triggers printables are a members only bonus. If you are a current member, log in and then click the link. If you are not a current member you can re-join for $21 here. If you are a first time member you can join for $27 here.)
What other examples of ridiculous advertising can you think of? Read on and enter them in our competition!
3. COMPETITION: Impossible Promises
Many of the things we are sold each day give us the impression we will gain something fabulous or magically improve our lives in some way. But if you stop and really think about what a lot of advertisements and images are saying, a lot of them are downright silly and are never going to happen, just like the examples in the article above.
The list of impossibilities is endless, so this month we thought we would have a little fun seeing how many we can spot together. What advertisements or products can you find which cannot possibly deliver the things they imply? For example, we all know deep down that buying a new convertible will not result in bringing Mr or Miss Right running to your side - but we still want one anyway, just in case.
What other examples can you come across this month? Send them in to us here and you could be a winner! You can enter as many times as you like, the more the merrier. The winning example will receive $100. Competition closes midnight, March 31st. We can't wait to read your entries!
4. The 100 Million Dollar Challenge
This month I have had a ball watching everyone's savings grow on our new 100 Million Dollar Challenge feature. This is a fun and motivational place on the Simple Savings website where you can keep track of every little cent you save, both for your own satisfaction and to inspire others. We started this because we wanted you to be able to see what a fabulous job you're doing and how all those little bits you save each day really do mount up to make a big difference. Once you get started filling it in, it’s a great way to show your family or partners ‘Look how well we’re doing! Look how much we have saved already!’ and encourage those around you to help keep up the good work.
It always blows me away how quickly little savings add up! If you haven’t had a look at it yet, check it out and you’ll see what I mean. Feedback so far has been terrific and members are really enjoying seeing their savings grow:
"I'm so glad I joined this! By putting in my savings, I've already saved over $700 since the start of the year. As I don't have a lot of money to go around, any savings I can get is a bonus; whether it's from savings at the supermarket or savings to my Christmas club. While my Christmas club may only get odd amounts put into it, I do try to put something in each week... after all, every little cent counts! Looking forward to seeing just how much I end up saving over the year - even if it's not physically in my wallet, it's still better than paying full price!" - Gemini67au
"I just found the ‘Your Entries’ section and added up my total for the year - $2110! I am amazed as most of my entries were very small – one, two, three or four dollars - so it is amazing how little savings add up. This means I have had $300 odd more per week above my income than I would have without these changes. No wonder we don't find it hard to manage on a pension with a little supplement." - Anne McGrath
We already knew how well adding up savings this way worked from the Save-O-Meter which we started in 2004. So we created the 100 Million Dollar Challenge to encourage everyone to REALLY crank up their savings this year. If you haven't given it a go yet, it’s never too late to join in! All you do is hop onto the site and spend 30 seconds a day recording your savings. If you would like to look at others’ entries to give you an idea go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/100mc
Once you’ve seen what it’s all about, jump on in and start adding your own! It is a lot of fun and dare we say addictive (but in the best possible way!)
5. Best of the Vault: Where There's a Will, There's a Way!
There are all kinds of ways to make sure you and your household 'stop and think' before getting sucked in by advertising. Whether it's beauty products, online shopping or any one of the countless temptations thrown at us each day, you'll find plenty of tried and true solutions to NOT buying them in the Vault. Try some of these and enjoy more money in your pocket!
$3 girls' night out
My friends and I save heaps on girls' nights out with a special 'pamper' evening we hold at alternate houses every few months. We all bring clothing, accessories and make-up that we own but never use (because they were impulse buys, we changed our minds and so on) and start the evening by doing a clothes swap. We all then do each other's hair, make-up, nail polish and so on and we also invite the local Avon lady to come along and give us beauty tips. Most importantly, we each put in $3.00 that goes towards a couple of bottles of wine from the local supermarket. This usually leads us out for a night of boogying, so we end up getting pampered, feeling beautiful and getting an awesome dance work out for just $3.00 and a few supplies from our homes!
$40 computer games cure online shopping addiction
Buying two computer games for $40 has stopped me from wasting money on online shopping, saving me so much that I have finally been able to get my teeth fixed! I would turn on the computer first thing in the morning and turn it off last thing at night, avidly checking all the eBay and Trade Me sites, and buying so many things I thought I needed that I never had any money left at the end of the week. Then I bought these games and they have become my new addiction! I no longer have time for online shopping as I have to keep my games up to date and the impulse to shop has disappeared completely.
'Fish and chip philosophy' curbs spending
Our family lives by my 'fish and chip philosophy' which helps us put our spending priorities into perspective.
Whenever anyone in our family wants to buy something, we check if it's on special and then think about whether or not we really need it. To help us decide, I point out how the money spent on this item could be put toward fish and chips at the beach. We only have fish and chips occasionally, but it puts a concrete thought in our minds about how the money could be spent - on something frivolous now, or saved up and spent on a special treat for the whole family to enjoy.
Also, if someone comes home with something that they could possibly do without, I ask - 'how many fish and chips would that have bought?' This reinforces the point about being careful with money, without having to give a lecture about it!
'Needs' and 'wants' jar system stops impulse buys
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!
'Not Buying It' reduced my spending
An inspirational book has helped me to control my spending habits! I love shopping, but would find after about a month that the item I bought wasn't so important after all. Then I heard of a book called 'Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping' by Judith Levine, which I borrowed from the library. It is the author's journal on trying to not waste money for a whole year! It really inspired me to rethink what we spend our money on and what marketing and promoting can do to the average consumer. It also gives tips on how to recycle things when we have to. It's a great read and should curb my old spending habits for quite a while!
'What's meant to be' philosophy stops unnecessary buys
I save money on all kinds of shopping by having a little faith in fate! My philosophy is that if I am meant to have something it will still be there later. Rather than buying something the first time I see it, I go back another time. Many times I have decided I don't want it after all, or it is not available anymore, which means I wasn't meant to have it. If it is there and I still want it, I wait for it to go on sale. If, when the sale is on, it is still there, it means I was meant to have it, so I buy it pleased in the knowledge that I saved myself some money too!
A little imagination can save a lot
Before I let myself buy something it has to pass the 'use it test'. I imagine buying it, taking it home and taking it out of the packaging. I think about where I'm going to put it and what I'm going to do with it. Then I imagine if I'll still be using it in a few weeks, months or years. If you find this hard you probably don't need it as much as you think you do!
6. Best of the Forum: Celebrations and Commiserations
The Forum has always been a terrific place to share money saving triumphs and blunders and this month is no exception! Join in the celebrations and commiserations with some of these enjoyable and thought provoking discussions.
Feeling delightfully girly and feminine doesn't have to mean spending a fortune! In this gorgeous thread, Susan's Perspective shares some of the low-cost treats which make her heart sing.
Abundance Allowed tells how her year of 'not buying it' almost came a cropper when temptation crossed her path at the book store. Did sanity prevail? Find out here!
Minister of War & Finance is over the moon with her latest luxurious acquisition - but her 'splurge' is nothing like you would think! This thread is a brilliant reminder of how the simplest of things can make life so much easier, along with some great examples of genuinely worthwhile investments.
'But wait, there's more!' Nano wash balls, sonic rodent repellers - No Waste Sherrie freely admits to being sucked in by 'miracle' products and other members are quick to follow suit. Can you add to the list of no-no's? Join in the discussion here!
7. Best Members' Blog: How to Find Clearance Items
One of the many benefits of being a Vault member is that you can win $100 cash each month for your Simple Savings blog! Starting your own blog on the site is easy. All you have to do is log into the Vault, click on 'My Desk' at the top right, then 'Blog'. Then get writing! We love reading all your money saving trials and tribulations and really appreciate the effort that goes into each one.
This month's Blog winner is leejay with her 'The Urban Hunter Gatherer' blog. In this mega helpful post, she shares some truly valuable secrets on how she saves stacks of money every day. What a star!
How to Find Clearance Items
"Come closer. I'm going to share with you a great secret. So many people display their supermarket bargains while others just shake their heads and wonder how they do it. I'm going to share with you how I do it.
Today at Woolworths I bought $269.02 worth of items but only paid $127.58. Not items on special but genuine clearance items only. Some full price too but in the end I saved more than I spent. No bonus points or vouchers were used.
By knowing how your store works you can do this too. I won't disclose my local store because I guard my hunting grounds closely, but I will share my skills so you can find your own happy hunting ground.
Now understand that EVERY STORE is different.
All stores have a different routine and mark down each department at different times of the day. Be prepared to go back twice in one day or at least shop at different times to catch the best bargains. Go outside your area and visit other stores.
Speak to the staff and ask: When do you mark down the meat, vegies and dairy? Do you ever offer 'fill a bag' veg and fruit and when? When do you reduce your bread?
Knowing this can halve your grocery bill.
Use by dates and best before dates are your very best friend. Without these mandatory expiry dates, supermarkets would have no reason to discount anything. And here's the secret. Buying items close to use by date will save you a huge amount of money.
If the item is long life - shelf stable and only requiring refrigeration after opening, you are safe.
Household chemicals such as shampoos contain preservatives so they aren't going off.
Biscuits, chips, lollies and so on; unless the packaging is damaged, will be safe well past use by. It's the same for dried spices and baking items. If they are dry or sealed in plastic they will all be fine, well out of date.
Packaged fruit and veg is my absolute favourite because it has a use by date on it. Today I bought two 1kg bags of white peaches marked down from $3.78 to $1.74, all perfect but the pack says use by 18/2, so they mark them down! Same for kale, rocket mix and potatoes.
Marked down dairy can usually be frozen. Yoghurt bought close to date is often still good until you have eaten it.
Fresh meat, chicken, fish and so on you can see through the wrapping. If it is discoloured or the bone is dark don't buy it. Smell it. If you can smell it through the package, don't buy it.
Process your mark downs quickly. Freeze it, cook it, eat it, but don't drive it around half the day. Get it home and pack it away.
'I never find any bargains.' Sometimes neither do I. But sometimes I really hit the jackpot. Shop often and be patient. Everything comes down.
For example, Woolworths this past week (18/02/2016) has large Steggles whole chickens on sale for $3.00 per kg. These are huge chickens and they are well stocked. In the next few days, these birds will start to be marked down as their best before date approaches. In December they were reduced by 40%; enormous chickens for $4.50. Clear the freezers because you will want some of these. Defrost and cook for 40 minutes per kg at 180 degrees. Cheaper than ham or mince. Know your prey and watch the dates.
My store has a scratch and dent trolley, right up the back of the store.
Today I bought:
- Two 80 pack Finish dishwasher tablets reduced from $27 each to $11 (160 tabs for $22).
- Loreal hair dye $3.60.
- Sweetadin artificial liquid sweetener $0.20c.
- Pack of two Bonds underpants reduced $17.59 to $3.49.
I have bought other items from this trolley like dented tins of tomatoes for $0.09c each.
Find out if your store has a trolley or discount location. Be methodical and patient. It's my first stop every time I enter the store and I will often base my meal plan on spices and items I find in this trolley.
The rule of the scratch and dent trolley is only buy it if you have a use for it or want to try something new. DO NOT buy just because it's cheap."
What a wonderful effort leejay, thank you so much for sharing. You can read more of our members' blogs here.
8. Best of SS Facebook: Yippee, I'm Debt-Free!
Love Facebook or hate it, the Simple Savers Facebook page is a great way to learn even more tips and enjoy reading of other members' successes. This one from Kerryn really put a smile on our faces!
"Just putting it out there - because I am so happy! As of today - we are completely debt-free! It has been a hard slog being so careful with every cent for so long - but has been worth the effort ... I finally feel like we can really get ahead now! Time for new adventures!"
Fantastic stuff Kerryn and a BIG congratulations on achieving your debt-free dream!
Joining our busy Facebook community is super easy. Either search up 'Simple Savers' on Facebook or click this link and request to join. Once you're in, let the fun begin!
9. Saving Story: House Sitting Has Enriched My Life - and My Wallet!
I have recently decided to start house sitting after a relationship breakup. When I had moved in with my now ex-partner I had sold all my furniture, my white goods and all household items as I was moving into his furnished home. When the split occurred I was at a loss on what to do. I have done my fair share of house sharing with horror stories to match. I really wanted to live on my own again although financially it was going to be a burden having to re-purchase all the household items.
All of this came on so suddenly I felt that I hadn't had time to even think about what I should do. As it was the Christmas/New Year period a few friends were going on holidays and I thought that I would ask if I could house and pet sit for them whilst they were away, as this would give me time to assess what I really wanted in life and what my long term goals are.
My long term goals are to get out of debt and then to travel the world, and renting a house would delay this process quite significantly. When I started thinking about the idea of house sitting and doing some number crunching I soon realised that I could easily save $20,000 for the year - this is like having a second wage! I then started to think there must be more people out there looking for house sitters. So I started to do my research, there are two main house sitting websites that I found had a decent response for Adelaide (www.aussiehousesitters.com.au and www.mindahome.com.au).
I searched through the Adelaide house sitters' profiles to see who I was up against and what they had added to their profile and one thing I noticed is that I was the only person in their 20's. The majority of sitters were retired and travelling around Australia and I thought to myself 'this is either going to work for me or against me but there is only one way to find out'.
As I started thinking more about house sitting and the savings that I would have I was getting more excited about the prospect of not only being able to smash out my goals at a far more rapid rate but I would also be able to have animal companionship which is also very important to me. I also LOVE change, my attention span is quite short and I find that I always need to be on the go so this is the perfect thing for me.
I decided THIS is what I'm going to do for 2016 and I signed up to the two websites. I put up a post on Facebook advising that if anyone needed a house sitter in 2016 I was their girl.
Soon enough I was inundated with messages and friends sharing my post. It was becoming a little confusing managing all the messages so I set up my own Facebook Page called: Animal Loving House Sitter. With each house sit I post a photo of the pets with a brief update and keep my calendar updated online. I have had such a positive response, not only from friends, but complete strangers. House sitting has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. Once I am out of debt and travelling I want to be able to house sit all over Australia and the world.
I have currently completed five house sits, all of which have come with five star reviews on my Facebook page. I am saving hundreds of dollars per week in rent, utilities and standard household items like toilet paper, detergent and so on. I keep all my clients updated with how their pets are doing and send through updates and photos so they know that their home and pets are well looked after.
So far the only downfall I have encountered with house sitting is saying goodbye to my new furry friends! Who would have thought such strong bonds are formed in such a short time frame? I can only hope they enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed theirs.
House sitting is something that I had never thought about but now that I'm doing it I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier. Every few weeks I get a new house to stay in and new pets to play with!
Contributed by: Elli P
10. Goodbye For Now
We hope you have enjoyed this month's newsletter. Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled this month spotting impossible promises! When you do, be sure to send them in to us. Keep sending all your wonderful hints in too! Not only could your efforts win you a free 12 month membership to the Vault, you'll also be helping to make Simple Savings the very best it can be. We really appreciate each and every tip we receive. That's all for now, have a fantastic month!
All the best,