Recent Hints & Tips

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

Get more for less at Woolworth's through eBay
updated 27 Apr 2017
I have discovered how to get more groceries for my money through eBay! Woolworth's online shopping vouchers can be purchased through eBay. We got one today and purchased a $240 voucher for just $200! There is another value available too. NB: There are conditions and time limits so this needs to be checked out before purchasing, but well worth checking out!
Minimum fuss haircut you can do yourself!
updated 26 Apr 2017
'Do It Yourself' free, layered haircuts are possible for those with medium to long hair! Try this, it does work (and as a student married to a student, I can vouch for it):

It's best to wrap a towel around your shoulders before you do this; that way you can just shake the towel outside to get rid of the excess hair.

Turn your head upside down and make a ponytail with your hand about 3-5 cm from your front hair line.

Tie a hairband around the ponytail, keeping your head upside down.

Then tie another hairband every 5 cm up the rest of the hair until you can't go any further and trim 2-4 cm of your hair (to get rid of split ends) with very sharp scissors.

Undo the hair bands and brush. There you have it - a new layered hairstyle with minimum fuss and no cost!
Grow your own mighty investment with Acorns
updated 25 Apr 2017
If you've always wanted to invest, but didn't know where to begin, there's a brand new website out called 'Acorns' which rounds up the money you spend and invests it for you. For example, if you spend $4.50 on a cup of coffee, it will round up the figure so you pay $5.00 and invest the extra $0.50c. The concept (and name) is taken from the mighty oak, which starts out only as an acorn, but grows into something great. If you want to find out more you can go to their website here:

It's a fantastic tool, especially if you don't have the discipline (or means) to make regular savings or investments.
Our Easter Bunny 'shops' well under budget!
updated 25 Apr 2017
Our family's Easter spend comes to little more than $1 each and there's more than enough for everyone! We have eight grandchildren to give Easter chocolate to each year - yes, I know we don't have to but as they believe that Easter bunny and their Grandpa are good friends it would be difficult to get them to understand why there are no chocolates for them... you can't have adoration of a grandparent without paying the price!

To keep costs down this year I bagged up cheap chocolates in a brown paper bag with pictures coloured in on them by Yours Truly. A production line of colouring in and each child has a personal gift from the Easter Bunny. It seems he came to have coffee with Grandpa last night and left these for us to hand deliver when we visit the Grand-kids.

Bags: $2 for 18

Chocolates: $11 for 30 eggs (the six remaining are for hubby and me) and 8 chocolate chickens

Grand total spend for the year: $13. Chocolates for 10 people at $1.30 each and hubby and I get a treat each as well!
Kogan prepaid SIM cards save all year round
updated 24 Apr 2017
My gift of pre-paid SIM cards is helping my family members save between $120 and $240 a year on calls, texts and data! I bought a Kogan prepaid SIM card for my daughter and my mother. Each cost $126.95 and last for 365 days. For that price they get all calls to Australian landlines and all calls to Australian mobiles, all texts AND 1Gb of data every 30 days. The data stops when the 1Gb has been used and restarts when the next 30 day period starts. You can purchase more data if you like, but this should be enough for the basics on a phone. My daughter uses WiFi at home or free WiFi when out to update apps and save on data usage.

This SIM works out at a bit over $10 per month which has saved $20 per month on my daughter's phone and $10 a month for my mother but she now has unlimited calls where her previous credit used to run out at $20 per month with no free texts. I bought the SIM's on sale so keep an eye out for the specials and jump in. They are a great saving!
Comforting pud uses only the basics
updated 23 Apr 2017
This pudding is so easy to make and is delicious served warm with ice cream on a cold winter's night!


2 tbsp butter

4 tbsp sugar

6 tbsp milk

8 tbsp SR flour

Mix and bake for 30 - 40 minutes in oven.

Serve with jam and coconut (optional) and icecream or cream.


Love the basic recipes!
Give your cut flowers a rosier future!
updated 22 Apr 2017
I have learned how I can get the best possible value and enjoyment from cut roses. Normally you buy or are given roses, only to find they can blow out (go soft and droopy) only a day later! However if you take the stems and cut off the bottoms (about 3cm) then place them in a bath, cover with cold water and leave for about three hours (sometimes more), the roses will rejuvenate and look like new. This also helps another problem when roses droop just below the base of the bud. Once cut, roses can get an air bubble just under the bud. Laying them in water this way helps to release the air bubble and allow the bud to replenish and last longer. This has saved me money on flowers I have bought in the past and will continue to in the future as I know when roses can be saved. It's lovely to be able to make any roses I have been gifted last longer too!
DIY darning 'mushroom' does the job!
updated 22 Apr 2017
I have discovered you don't need to spend money on a darning 'mushroom'; all you need is to get creative and find a free alternative! I have a pair of socks with a hole - well, I did! But today I darned it. I don't own a darning mushroom and it is always easier to do if you have one of those. However hubby has a roll-on deodorant so I used an empty bottle (you could use a full one of course, the sock wont mind) and I darned the sock.

The colour doesn't match, but who cares? The inside of my shoe isn't going to complain! If anyone sees it I will proudly say, 'Yes I darned it, I did a great job didn't I?' The rest of the sock was perfect, well maybe a bit greyer than white but they keep my feet warm and protected and this is all I need. I could not see the point in going to the store to buy a packet of socks when these ones were perfectly fine once darned. My money is safe in my savings account, my feet are safely in the socks and all is good with the world!
Sticky sausages
updated 22 Apr 2017
Try this recipe! It's cheap to make and all my family enjoy it.


Serves 4


8 thick sausages
4 tblsp tomato sauce
2 tblsp dark brown sugar
1 tblsp mustard powder
2 tblsp soy sauce


Set oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Mix all marinade ingredients in a shallow ovenproof dish. Add the sausages and coat them in the marinade. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Serve with mashed potato.
Immune-boosting chicken soup
updated 22 Apr 2017
Because my mum has an auto-immune disease, she is prone to colds, flu and pneumonia and takes an average of 12-18 tablets a day. As I don't want Mum to get sick or have to take more tablets, I needed to think up a way of boosting her immune system. So I started to make ordinary chicken soup, but it wasn't potent enough. That's when I came up with this recipe. I think that it tastes delicious and has plenty of flavour.

Becky's Kill Anything Chicken Soup

8-9 chicken lovely legs, skinless
8-10 chopped cloves of garlic
1 chopped onion
2-3 small red chillies (Remove the seeds if you don't like it too hot as they're the hottest part, or just use one chilli. But you must use small chillis because they loosen mucus.)
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 litres Continental chicken stock
2 finely chopped carrots
1-2 handfuls corn
1 cup macaroni pasta
2-3 handfuls baby spinich

Heat the oil in a stock pot and brown the chicken, garlic, onion, chilli and ginger.
Add the chicken stock, carrots and corn.
Bring to the boil, and if needed add water. Simmer for 15-30 minutes. Take out the chicken, pull the meat off the bone, break meat into small pieces and put back in the pot. Add macaroni and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Add baby spinach, taste, add salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

Since I've started to make this recipe, my mother has had fewer colds. When she has been sick it has not been for as long and has meant fewer hospital visits - not to mention fewer doctor's visits. Between the savings on medical bills, doctor's bills and hospital visits, I cannot begin to imagine what our savings have been but I don't doubt that it's been in the thousands of dollars.

Check store websites before buying that 'must have' in-store
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updated 22 Apr 2017
I have learned not to automatically believe what the shop assistant tells you - and always check their website before buying! I found a pair of pants in Peter Alexander that I fell in love with and asked the assistant if they had any loyalty/discount schemes. I was told they don't, but they have a mailing list. The assistant offered to put me on the mailing list, but I said I'd do it at home. This turned out to be a good decision, as the pants were discounted on the website, although they were full price in the store! Also, by signing up for their mailing list, you get a discount on your first full-price purchase too!
Check best deals between same NZ and Aus products
0 comment
updated 22 Apr 2017
If you have an international rewards card or account, be sure to check all countries and their relevant pages to make sure you don't miss out on the best price! Today I was using Qantas points to buy a noise cancelling headset as mine had needed replacing for years. Just before finalising the purchase I thought I would try and pay in Australian dollars so I could use my Australian account; however I couldn't find a way to do it. So I tried the Australian website thinking I would simply complete the purchase from there instead but the cheapest set of noise cancelling head phones cost three times as much as the cheapest on the NZ webpage! The moral of the story - check the different pages before choosing your item to make sure you can't get a similar one for a better price! You will need to check shipping costs as well just to make doubly sure you are getting the best deal but it's well worth the effort.
Extreme makeover at an extremely good price!
updated 20 Apr 2017
I gave my lounge a makeover for just $28 by simply taking a fresh look at my colour schemes and accessories. First, I purchased three medium-sized canvases from a budget store and some plain and patterned material, both in matching colours. I then created some original fabric artwork by covering the canvases and attaching the material at the back with a staple gun. Finally I bought some cheap accessories, including a bowl and tablecloth, to compliment the artwork and bring the room to life. The finishing touches came from a vase and floor mat no longer wanted by a friend, both of which matched my new colour scheme perfectly!
An extra meal from every jar or tin
updated 20 Apr 2017
Here's how I get an extra meal out of every jar or tin! Every time I open one, I keep one portion of it aside, for example if I open a tin of peaches to make a crumble, I keep a small amount aside for use in fruit muffins or to have with breakfast the next day. If I open a tin of tuna for a pasta bake, I keep one small portion aside to make a sandwich. If I open a packet of corn chips to make a large nachos, I keep a portion aside in a resealable bag for a school snack. It's a great way to make your pantry items, and your money, go that little bit further!
Two-ingredient pizza can be gluten free too!
updated 19 Apr 2017
I am delighted to be able to share that the fantastic Simple Savings recipe for two-ingredient pizza using yoghurt and flour can be made successfully gluten free too! I just used gluten free flour instead of regular flour when making the dough, then baked for 10 minutes before adding the toppings for a crisper pizza. I am so happy to be able to have pizza again at home so easily!
Hunger busting 'broke burgers'
updated 18 Apr 2017
I love these 'broke burgers' - as a student, I make them quite often!


1 egg
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup cottage cheese
1 packet onion soup


Mix all ingredients together and fry them as you would with burgers or meatballs. These are great the next day too. Cooking for a crowd? Double or triple the recipe, it works fine!
Free garden makeover
updated 17 Apr 2017
You can have your garden transformed into a self-sufficient food wonderland for free! The only cost to you will be spending two Saturdays doing the same for others whilst you also gain loads of experience in the various elements of permaculture and meet some wonderful, like-minded people. Find out more at
Save interest and pay before weekend
updated 17 Apr 2017
If you don't want to get stung with interest on your credit card payments check which day of the week the due date falls on first! Most of us know that by paying the full amount due on our credit cards on the due date, we can usually get away with not paying any interest on the past month's transactions.

However, these due dates sometimes fall on a weekend and if you pay via the Internet, the transaction may not be processed until the next business day - therefore you potentially risk losing your interest free period!

Check to see if the due date does fall on a weekend, and you can make sure you schedule the payment to occur on the Friday BEFORE the due date. Paying a day or two earlier is worth doing to avoid possible hefty interest payments.
Motherly advice on credit
updated 17 Apr 2017
My mum, who lived through the Depression and war rationing, knows all about being frugal and creative with limited resources. One particularly useful lesson she taught me about credit was The Rule of 72.

Divide 72 by the interest rate you are being charged. The answer to this equation is the number of years it will take for the debt to double if you do nothing to reduce it. For example, divide 72 by 18, the interest rate on most credit cards. If you don't pay any of the debt, it will double in four years. I have found this really handy when making quick comparisons on borrowing rates and so on.
One per cent on credit card transfers with NAB
1 comment
updated 17 Apr 2017
I'm in the process of attempting to get on top of my credit card debt, and have found a way to save thousands in interest as I do it! I currently have around $19k worth of debt (down from $22k) and I am determined to get rid of it before my 30th birthday next year. I decided to look at consolidating my cards into a new card with a balance transfer offer.

Using a fantastic tool available at I input my current details and discovered that on my existing cards I would pay nearly $3,000 in interest and fees over the next 17 months while paying it off. Stunned, I started researching different card offers to see what the difference would be. I have now just been approved for an NAB credit card with a one per cent fee on balance transfers for 12 months! The calculator shows I'll be able to pay my card off two months sooner and will pay only $380 in interest and fees. That is a whopping saving of just under $2,600!

Tips for doing this - shop around and compare lots of different offers. Also, don't be fooled by 'no annual fee' offers or even the zero per cent offers. If your debt is large like mine, you will save more money by getting a one or two per cent rate over a longer term with a moderate annual fee. But don't forget to cancel the other cards as soon as the balance transfer has taken place! This offer is on till 15 August and the form takes less than 10 minutes to fill out!
Freeze leftover packet/flavoured breadcrumbs for no waste
1 comment
updated 9 Apr 2017
I've come up with a simple and effective way to save money on packet breadcrumbs! I would buy the expensive, flavoured ones for crumbing chicken breasts, only to find I would have to throw the lot away when I'd done just enough for one meal. Then it occurred to me, why not freeze the leftover breadcrumbs for next time?

Now I keep a large airtight container specifically for the crumbs and simply take them out, crumb the chicken and then put them back. They are out of the freezer for around five minutes each time and all the crumbs get used, before I refill and repeat the process. This also saves us money on takeaway as crumbed chicken seems like a takeaway treat, but being baked with a spray of oil, is quite healthy and low fat. We have them on their own, as nuggets and chips, on burgers and in wraps.
3 ingredient Slow Cooker Apple Crumble
updated 6 Apr 2017
This super cheap and easy recipe is one of my all time favourite desserts. When you pick up the items on special (e.g. cake mix from ALDI for 99c) it makes it even more economical!

Serves 4 - 6


1 tin sliced apple
1 vanilla cake mix
80g butter


Spray the inside of your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray (or you can grease it with a little extra butter). Pour the apple pie filling into the bottom of the crockpot.

Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the apples - DO NOT STIR.

Top with dobs of butter.

Cook on high for 2-3 hours.

You can also leave the lid off for about 30 minutes to make the top crispy.

Make a 'to DON'T' list for your retirement
updated 5 Apr 2017
Being more conscious of the things we don't need is making our retirement easier. Two years into our retirement, I realised we couldn't continue spending as though we were still working and still have a great holiday every year. So I wrote a list of the things we didn't need to buy under three headings. The first, 'Food and Beverages' included packets of junk food, ready made meals, sweets and desserts, expensive cuts of meat e.g. fillet and T-bone steaks, frozen vegetables with the exception of frozen peas when on special, soft drinks and bottled water plus 'health drinks', alcohol, overpriced and over sugared cereals, and packaged cake and pudding mixes. The next was 'Clothes and Shoes'. These days we only make a clothing purchase when something is worn out, and always search online for that particular item or shoes when on a huge reduction sale price. Finally I wrote a list under 'Entertainment'. We are avid readers and are members of our free library, books by our favourite authors are ordered ahead online, and hubby also now reads the newspapers in the library. The library also has good quality classic DVD's and CD's. We grow some herbs and vegies in our small plot too which we find therapeutic. The list of things we don't buy is getting longer which gives us a boost and also encouragement, and we have since been able to enjoy several cruise holidays to date!
Recycled zip-up bag keeps x-rays safe for free
updated 4 Apr 2017
I have found the perfect solution to keeping important x-rays and other medical records safe, for no cost. Over the years my husband and I have had several x-rays, CT scans and MRI's and have been given these to store at home.
After our recent move I went through them and disposed of a lot, but have kept the more recent ones, and after trying to store them in the linen press without much luck, I found a plastic zip-up bag from when I bought a pillow. It is the perfect size, even for the largest envelopes! I can now store them behind a cupboard standing up and out of site, but they are there if they are needed.
Comforting chemical free microwave popcorn
updated 4 Apr 2017
I have finally found a way I can enjoy super fast popcorn without all the additives! I won't use food with additives and flavourings and the same goes with snacks. As popcorn is a favourite go-to snack, I always used a popcorn popper. Another appliance on the bench - noisy too.

Fortunately I have since found a better alternative - just 2 -3 minutes in the microwave and it's done! Here's how I do it:

Put three tablespoons of un-popped corn kernels into a brown paper bag and microwave on high. There's no oil, no fake flavourings, no added salts or sugars and no toxins.

I then smother in melted butter, a seasoned salt (French Perfume salt *drools*) and a good movie. Or salt and a chocolate powder. Cheap, easy, quick and sorta healthy.

Perfect for the cooler months, making in a caravan, having as an after school treat or late at night with a good book. Enjoy!

... and thousands more.

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