21 January 2018


This is what we spent:

Petrol:  $36.65
Onions: $2.99
Aldi: $5.98
Ceiling Fans: $408

Petrol: Prices around here are crazy, with as much as 16c/litre difference. Even with the 4c/litre discount and any possible Flybuys/Rewards points, our local 7Eleven has been the cheapest petrol this week @$123.9/L.  Filled my car, cost $36.65 - a saving of $5.12 over Woolworths, which was again cheaper than Coles this week. Shifted $23.35 to holiday petrol account and $5.12 to savings.

Onions: Joy was able to get me a 10 kilo bag of onions for $2.99, which is my buy now price of 30c/kg. The cheapest I've been able to get them locally is 80c/kg, so a 50c/kg saving. $5.00 doesn't sound like much on its own, but when it's added to all the other savings we make, it adds up to a lot over a year. Watching the small spends has a big impact on overall savings.

Aldi: Milk, $2.99 and I splurged and bought a box of icy poles on Thursday, when it was so hot. Yes, I could've made them, but freezer space is at a premium so 20 for $2.99 made them 15 cents each, and I used my pocket money to buy them (and we all enjoyed them).

Ceiling fans: This was  a planned and saved for expense. We are gradually updating all the ceiling fans in our home. This week we replaced two in the family room and one in our bedroom. After spending hours online and even more hours tramping from store to store, taking photos and sending them to Wayne to approve or ignore (that means he didn't like it, but if it was what I wanted he'd be OK with it - he's a keeper!), I finally chose the two styles. Cost for the three fans came from the home maintenance account, for a total of $408, a saving of $429 (it really pays to shop around and compare prices online and instore before buying. Yes, I had to go to two different stores but the saving was over 50% - well worth it!).

This is what we didn't spend (and what was moved into savings/slush fund/holiday fund):

Meals: All our meals were cooked at home, using ingredients from the pantry, fridge and freezer. According to a survey (Eating Out in Australia 2017)  http://www.the-drop.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/EatingOutinAustralia_2017_Respondent-Summary.compressed.pdf, Australians spend an average of $94 a week on eating out and takeaway meals, and that's per person. Using this as a guide, we've saved $376 by eating homecooked meals! That's a month's grocery budget for my family, for just three meals! So glad I cook at home.

Lunches: Packed Wayne's lunch and snacks every day this week. He's still taking a MOO latte every morning in his keep cup. Saved $21.35 on lattes ($24, the cost of five large lattes, less  $2.65, the cost of five MOO lattes). Saved $60 on lunches and another $30 on snacks.

Baking: This week was card making week, so I made a batch of vanilla slices to take for afternoon tea. Because it was hot, they were my favourite no-bake style. The batch cost  $7.50 to make (a little more expensive than usual because I used biscuits for the base rather than pastry - it was just too hot to put the oven on). Vanilla slices sell for $3.20 each at our local bakery. My batch made 24 for $7.50 or 31 cents each; a few minutes in the kitchen filled the cake container and I didn't spend $69.30  ($76.80 less the cost of ingredients, $7.50) on vanilla slices!

Nails: Years ago I used to splurge and get my nails done at a salon. It was so long ago it only cost $10. This week I did my nails myself, using tools and nail polishes and hand cream I already had. I didn't spend $60 on a set of gel nails.

Made a batch of Miracle Spray. This filled the dispenser for a cost of $1.75, or 87 cents per litre. I didn't spent $9.90 per litre, a saving of $9.03 per litre or $18.06 for the batch.

Total spent this week: $453.63
Total not spent this week: $1070.71
And moved to savings: $452.35 (leftover petrol money  and saving on ceiling fans moved from house maintenance account)

Remember, money isn't saved until it is safely in the bank. Until then it is just not spent - hence my "what we didn't spend" list and making sure I move money from the relevant categories into our savings accounts.

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19 January 2018

Meal Plan Week 4, 2018

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Fish cakes, wedges, salad

Tuesday: Pasta bake, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday: Quiche, salad

Thursday: Moo Pizza

Friday: Australia Day BBQ

Saturday: Hamburgers

Fish Cakes

1 x 425g can of salmon or tuna
2 cups of cooked, mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon parsley
1 onion, chopped
1 egg
salt & pepper
Flour, egg for glazing & breadcrumbs.

Mix together fish, potatoes, parsley, onion & egg. Add seasonings and form into small round cakes. Using flour on board and hands, coat the balls with egg glazing and toss in breadcrumbs until well covered. Fry in fat or oil until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

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18 January 2018

Handmade Christmas

This last week I noticed my dishcloths in the kitchen were getting very raggy, so three new ones came out of the linen cupboard and I spent a couple of nights knitting replacements for them.
While I was in the linen cupboard I pulled out some knitting needle containers and covered them in pretty tissue paper that I had in the craft drawer. They are so pretty and much nicer than the plain, boring plastic they were.
I also had a few minutes here and there this week so I set up my card making supplies and when I had a few minutes I'd sit down and work on a card. It may not be as time efficient as the production line I usually do, but by the end of the week I had some lovely cards to add to the stash.

Such a productive week, all done in grabs when I had a few minutes. And I'm very happy with the additions to the present box.


The knitting needle containers cost $2.99 each. I had the materials needed to cover them, leftover from other projects, so the cost for the three knitting needle containers was $9.99. I've seen them for sale from $19 up to $64! There's no way I'd ever pay $19, let alone $64, for a knitting needle case, so the calculations are worked on the $19 version; that means I could move $47 to the savings account to pay for these gifts. As there is no way I'd every pay $19 each for them, I've paid myself (via the holiday account this week) $24, because $8 each doesn't sound too bad and it's still under my gift budget of $10 per gift.

Only two weeks into this year's handmade Christmas challenge and the present box is looking rather healthy, and I've been able to tick a couple of presents off my gift list already!

Are you going to make gifts this year? Have you started yet? Do you have a plan of things to make, or are you just making as the fancy takes you? 

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Happiness Homemade

 This is the title of a little book I was given before we were married, and I've referred back to it many times since then, for encouragement, wisdom and old fashioned advice.

When Hannah was three and four, if you'd asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she'd happily tell you she wanted to be a shopper (I know - she's my daughter!). When I was little, then as I grew older, if you'd asked me what I truly wanted to be when I grew up I'd have told you wife, mother and homemaker. They were the jobs I wanted most of all, everything else came second in my career choices.
As it turned out I met, then re-met quite a few years later, my sweetheart.  We fell in love, married (and in 12 days we'll be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary) and started our life together.

But before we were married we talked (a lot) about our future dreams and goals, and how they'd work in our marriage. Both of us came from somewhat traditional homes, with two parents: working father and homemaker mother, and that was the style of home we both wanted. We both wanted our children to have a parent at home with them, and we both wanted to raise our children ourselves; we wanted to be the main influence in our children's lives. We wanted to have the traditional home we'd both grown-up in.

It hasn't been quite that, though: we do live in the modern world and Disaster did Strike. I've worked both within and outside our home and now my "outside" work means I am able to fit it in around my work at home.
This is a big thing for me, because it means that I can still have my first career choice of wife, mother and homemaker, yet still "work" and contribute in more ways to our home.

But wife, mother and homemaker is still my first career, one I take very seriously, and one I'm not going to give up.

Caring for my family and our home is important to me and I'm proud to be able to do it.
I could work more hours and bring more cash into our household, although in reality that wouldn't necessarily be the case (working outside the home may bring in a wage, but there are costs associated with that wage, often costing almost as much or even more than you are earning - truly!).

I like doing my housework, I've never thought of caring for my family by caring for our home as drudgery, or a chore or a waste of my time or talents. It's something I take pride in, and an important part of my career.

I smile when I remember that when I clean our home, I'm saving at least $25 an hour for a cleaner. IIt doesn't take long, about an hour a day, usually in the mornings, every morning from Monday through Friday doing housework (I've put my daily routines here) keeps our home tidy and clean and comfortable. And by doing it myself, I've saved $125 a week from leaving our household budget and saved my husband from having to work an extra six hours. I'd much rather do the cleaning and have those six hours with him.
Working in the garden, ironing (although I try not to, it's not my favourite chore), baking our bread, making jam and marmalade, cooking our meals from scratch, shopping wisely to get the most from our money, are all things I do as a part of my job. And all these things make our home a happier, nicer environment for our family.

Taking the time to sew on a button or restitch a downed hem makes the garment owner feel loved and special, and that flows forward to making our home a happier, nicer place, somewhere we all want to be.
Looking for the best deals on the things we need, making gifts instead of buying them, DIYing instead of paying someone else to paint or make curtains or repair something all save us spending money, so we can use it for the things we really enjoy.

My days are busy and sometimes they are non-stop and I get tired, but they are always fulfilling. At the end of each day I look back at what's been accomplished and smile, knowing that I've done my job to the best of my ability, that my family is happy and that my happiness truly is homemade.

Thursdays have always been household day here on the blog, and 2018 isn't going to change that.

What will change is the type of post on a Thursday. This year they'll focus on how we can make our homes happy, sometimes using old-fashioned methods, tips and tricks and sometimes using more modern ways.

And how a happy home can change your financial life, without you feeling deprived or poor.

I hope you'll join me, and enjoy finding that your happiness can be homemade too.

14 January 2018


This is what we spent:

Groceries: $4.99 (milk, plain yoghurt)
Household: $260.00 (new mattress)
Chemist: $40.12 (vitamins)
Kmart: $3 (t-shirt)

Yoghurt: NQR had  1 kilo tubs of Greek yoghurt for 99 cents so I bought two and froze them in ice cube trays. The yoghurt cubes will be used as starter for MOO yoghurt and to add to curries and sauces.

We came home on Sunday to a damp bed. We have a water bed and it sprung a leak sometime between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Ho hum. We  (read: Wayne) tried to patch it. We have a super-strength patch kit with amazingly strong and fast drying glue. After pulling the bed apart and hunting for the leak, we thought we'd found it, so it was patched. And we thought that was the end of it. Nope. There was still a leak, a sneaky, hidden, impossible to find no matter how hard we searched leak.

After a night in the spare bed we both woke up cramped and cranky. After a discussion on the merits of buying a new mattress over hunting for the leak, we chose the new mattress. Then came the searching for a replacement at a price we could afford and were prepared to pay. We found it, with same day delivery if ordered before 2pm. Yes! So I rang first thing, had a chat to the fellow to make sure what I was ordering was the equivalent replacement of what we had and handed over $260 (this included a new liner, water conditioner and delivery). This came out of the household account, which is where I stash the cash to cover replacement furniture etc.

This is what we didn't spend (and what was moved into savings/slush fund/holiday fund):

Yoghurt: Made two kilos MOO yoghurt. Cost: 12 cents for yoghurt (it was 99c/kg!) and $2.88 for milk powder. Plain Greek yoghurt costs $5.30 per kilo. My MOO yoghurt cost $3 for two kilos, leaving my grocery budget $7.60 better off.

Coffee: Wayne is still using his keep cup - and I'm loving the saving.  $21.35 moved to savings from Entertainment.

Lunches: Packed lunches every day, along with morning and afternoon tea. This week I made a batch of scrolls, a large chocolate slab cake and two dozen mini fruit cakes, as well as two dozen sausage rolls for lunches. Our local bakery sells coffee/cinnamon scrolls for $4.80 each. The batch made 14 really big scrolls and cost $6.10 to make; that equates to just  44 cents per scroll, or $61.10 I didn't spend on scrolls (not that I would - we can't afford to spend a week's grocery money on cinnamon scrolls!).

The chocolate slab cake cost $6.20 to make and it filled my large Corningware baking dish (I made four times the recipe). This gave me 60 large slices of chocolate cake. At $2 a slice, I didn't spend $113.80 on cake for morning/afternoon teas and lunches.
Sausage rolls are $3.30 each at the same bakery (and it's not even a particularly trendy bakery). The cost of making sausage rolls has gone up, as sausage mince has doubled in price in the last 12 months. It now costs $4 for a roll of sausage mince, $2.50 for pastry, 30c for onion, 30c for breadcrumbs, 20c for herbs and 25c for egg, for a total of $7.75; that equates to 32c/sausage roll or $71.45 I didn't spend on sausage rolls (and mine are so much nicer, better flavour and not as much grease). Again, I would never buy two dozen sausage rolls from the bakery, we just couldn't afford it, but I can make them without hurting our grocery budget.

Mini fruit cakes are an expensive treat for us. A batch costs $9.45 to make (I get 24 cupcake size from a single recipe). I use Aldi mixed dried fruit I buy for $4.95/kg before Christmas each year and freeze, and Aldi butter. I really noticed how the cost of butter increased the cost of Christmas cakes and puddings this last Christmas, and it has made me think about baking and how much butter is in a recipe. The 24 fruit cupcakes cost $9.45 to make, or 39 cents each. I've no idea how much they would sell for, but regular cupcakes are $1.50 at the bakery, I think fruit cakes would be more expensive, so I didn't spend at least $26.55.

Bread: I've been making our bread this week. Bread at Coles is $1.80 a loaf - my homemade bread costs around $1 a loaf. I've made 5 loaves of bread, not spending $4.00.

Household: My knitted dishcloths in the kitchen were starting to get very ragged so they've been shifted to the laundry and I knitted three new ones. These sell for $8+ each on Etsy, and they cost me approximately $3 each to knit, so I've moved $15 from the household account to the holiday fund.

Chemist: My doctor bulk bills (for which I am very grateful) but sadly medications cost a small fortune. Last week he ordered a bunch of vitamins and minerals for me, to balance the long-term effects of medication I'm on. Some time spent hunting for the best prices and I found them on half-price sale, saving $40.12.

Total spent this week: $308.11
Total not spent this week: $360.97
And moved to savings: $286.70*

*I didn't move the $26.55 for the fruit cakes, the $7.60 for the yoghurt or the $40.12 for vitamins

Remember, money isn't saved until it is safely in the bank. Until then it is just not spent - hence my "what we didn't spend" list and making sure I move money from the relevant categories into our savings accounts.

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12 January 2018

Meal Plan Week 3, 2018

Chicken Alfredo Roll-ups ready to go into the oven
This coming week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Mini Meatloaf, salad

Tuesday:  Chicken Alfredo Roll-ups

Wednesday: BBQ sausages, salad

Thursday: Moo Pizza

Friday: Haystacks

Saturday: Toasted Sandwiches

In the fruit bowl: bananas

In the cake tin: Crackers, pita chips, chocolate cake, cinnamon scrolls

Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups

12 uncooked lasagne sheets
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
450ml jar alfredo pasta sauce (or MOO it)
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups grated cheese (mozzarella is good if you have it)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Boil the lasagne noodles and rinse with cool water. Lay on a clean tea towel and pat dry. Add two tablespoons of sauce onto each noodle and spread evenly over each noodle. Add two tablespoons of shredded chicken onto the sauce on each noodle and spread out. Top with one tablespoon of shredded cheese. Add salt and pepper, as desired. Rollup each lasagne noodle and place into a well-oiled baking dish. Top with alfredo sauce, sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Finish with grated parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese has melted on top and is golden brown.

What's on your meal plan for the next week?

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10 January 2018

What are your top financial goals?

We have a strict policy of not going into debt for Anything. At. All.

If we want something, we do our research and save up until we can afford it.

If we need something, we either use budgeted monies or use our Emergency Fund (that's what it is for - emergencies!).

We haven't always been debt free, so our financial goals have changed a lot over the years. But right now, in January 2018, I can tell you that:

our immediate financial goals are:

  • to continue to save for our holiday later this year - it's another big one, six weeks of travelling.to rebuild the medical fund (it has been decimated the last two years with my medical bills)

our long-term financial goals are:

  • to increase our retirement savings (we are really hoping to not have to rely on an age pension, and I really don't want us to work until 70!)
  • to add to our retirement home savings (the aim is to pay cash for our retirement home)

So what are your financial goals?

  • Create a lifestyle where one parent can stay at home with the children full-time (or a lifestyle where you can share it - either way there will always be one parent at home for the kidlets)
  • Get out of credit card debt?
  • Start an education fund for said children?
  • Pay off your mortgage?
  • Create a 12-month emergency fund?
  • Pay off car loans?
  • Save the deposit on a house?
  • Pay off last year's Christmas bills?
  • Save for a self-funded retirement?

Whatever your goals, put a workable plan in place so your goals will be achievable - there's nothing quite as satisfying as reaching a goal you've planned and worked towards.

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09 January 2018

Handmade Christmas

Last year I set myself the challenge to have a mostly handmade Christmas and it was wonderful. Without sounding cheap, lots of my stash of fabric, yarn and other craft materials were used to make gifts for friends and family.

It was a lot of work, but more fun. Choosing what to make for everyone, then finding the perfect materials, deciding on colours so each gift was individual and made just for the recipient took a bit of time (I made a few lists!) but that created a plan I was able to follow for the year.

Christmas 2017 was so easy, most of the gifts we gave were handmade especially for the recipients. They were planned and created to suit wants, needs, taste and style and were so much fun to put together that Christmas 2018 is going to be a completely handmade Christmas.

This week I've had some time to knit, so two dishcloths and a face washer are finished.  Then on Sunday afternoon the sewing machine came out and some fabric from the stash and I whipped up a couple of pot holders and cute little tissue cover.
 All the materials came from my stash, and the pot holders were made from pillowslips and doona covers I picked up from op shops. The batting for the pot holders was bath mats that were worn in the middle, so no cost for batting. The lace on the tissue cover was a scrap, leftover from one of Hannah's dresses when she was small.

I've seen the tissue covers selling at a local chemist for $7.95 each! I made six from scraps of fabric and lace -  a saving of $47.70!

This year I've also decided to be sure and pay for the gifts as I make them. Our gift budget is relatively small, just $540 for the year, for all gifts for everyone, so it is important that I track the cost of gifts to keep the budget straight.

To do this I calculate the cost to make the gift - in this case the tissue covers. I used scraps I already had, so they cost nothing to make. If I'd bought them, they would have cost $47.70. I've moved $47.70 from the gift fund to our savings account. Now I've paid for the tissue covers.

There is a cost to giving gifts, whether they're handmade or bought. The cost may just be your time, as with the tissue covers, or it may be just a few cents, as with the pot holders. But there is a cost, so it should be shown in your budget. Remember, if you make a gift, to pay for it.

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08 January 2018

What We Spent, What We Didn't Spend and What We Saved Week 1

A new series for 2018, as so many of you are curious about what we spend (or don't!).

This is what we spent:

Groceries - $56.54 - $16.54 over this fortnight's budget as I bought reduced meat for the freezer
Petrol - $60
Chemist - $5.49

This is what we didn't spend (and what was moved into savings/slush fund/holiday fund):

Petrol: Shopped around (locally) for the cheapest petrol.  Woolworths was 5c/litre cheaper than Shell/Coles, saved $3. This, along with the unspent petrol money, has gone straight to the holiday petrol jar. Just so you aren't confused, I budget $80 a week for petrol. I rarely use that much (very rarely), so when I fill up I shift what's left from the petrol budget for that week to the holiday petrol account. It builds up very quickly, meaning we can travel without worrying about any additional costs for fuel.

Garden: Bought liquid seaweed concentrate from Aldi 2 x 2litre bottles @$9.99. Saved $24.64 over buying 4 litres from Bunnings. I do have worm tea and bokashi tea on the go as well, and these are cost free to make, but not always ready when I need to feed the garden.

Parking: Mum is in hospital, so I've been parking a couple of streets over and walking to visit. Saved $60 over paying$4/hour for parking at the hospital for the time I've been there this week. I also had a couple of very quick visits, under 15 minutes, so I did take advantage of the closer parking - under 15 minutes is free.

Lunches: Packed Wayne's lunch and snacks every day this week. He's been taking a MOO latte every morning in his keep cup. Saved $21.35 on lattes ($24, the cost of five large lattes, less  $2.65, the cost of five MOO lattes).

I ate leftovers, sandwiches and salads for my lunch this week.

Cooking: Made gnocchi instead of buying it. Saved $4 over buying 500g of fresh gnocchi.
Made all our meals from scratch, using pantry, fridge and freezer ingredients.
MOO Pizza - My boys LOVE pizza so every Thursday is MOO pizza night. They make their own, and clean up so it's a very easy dinner for me. I don't eat pizza (well not very often anyway) so on pizza night I have a freezer meal. Last Thursday two pizzas were made, for a total cost of $5.80. To have two large pizzas delivered would cost $26 (according to the Pizza Hut website - 2 large super supreme @$13 each). Saving: $21.20 - and they're much nicer pizzas.

Chemist: Used my discount card to buy prescriptions, saving 15% or $12.80. I've left this in the chemist account, so it doesn't show in the savings total.

Doctor: Asked him to bulk bill pathology. No idea how much this saved but at least $80.

Craft: Used my stash of fabric to make some presents for the gift box. Scraps of fabric and lace I've had for ages became pretty gifts that sell for $7.95 each at a local chemist. I've made six, so a saving of $47.70. I've moved that from the gift budget to the holiday account.

Total spent this week: $122.03
Total not spent this week (and moved to savings): $281.59

Remember, money isn't saved until it is safely in the bank. Until then it is just not spent - hence my "what we didn't spend" list and making sure I move money from the relevant categories into our savings accounts.

06 January 2018

Staying Cool in a (Mini) Heatwave

Well today it is finally hot. Real Aussie summer hot. Here in Melbourne the forecast is to reach 42C (according to the nearest weather station we'll reach 41C. This is going to be the hottest day in two years, and of course it's being called a heatwave. I'm not sure a single day really is a heatwave, but either way, it's hot.

I was up before the sun, shutting windows and blinds, making sure the doors were shut tight and putting the sausages along them and turning on all the fans. As this is a one-day heatwave, we're going to try and ride it out without turning on the air conditioning. If it becomes unbearable, then of course they'll go on, no point in being miserable and hot to save a couple of dollars.

We only have two north facing windows, and two west facing, so it's a little easier to keep cool. Unfortunately the ceiling in the loungeroom means that room heats up very quickly. While the rest of the house is well insulated, the loungeroom ceiling isn't as thick.

The back of the house stays nice and cool; the thermometer on the kitchen window sill is reading 26, while outside is 36,and this is where we'll spend most of the day.

We made lots of ice blocks last night, ready to add to water or just crunch.

And I made lots of salads yesterday too - potato, pasta, coleslaw - and cooked meat, ready to just serve and eat. No point in cooking and heating the kitchen and frankly its even too hot to stand under the verandah and barbecue. Cold food wins hands down.

This may sound odd (and possibly mean - the third test is on after all) but I've also banned the TVs today. The televisions give off an amazing amount of heat, something you don't really think about, and that heat can warm a room up very quickly. So everyone is allowed to read or snooze or play games, but no TV until it cools down later tonight.

How do you stay cool during a heatwave?

05 January 2018

Painless Ways to Save a Bit of Money this Year

There are so many ways to save a bit of money. That's not a whole lot - like enough to buy a car or put deposit on a house - but enough to enjoy a treat at the end of the year, perhaps a weekend away at a romantic B&B or a nice family day out or a totally paid for Christmas.
One of my favourite ways to save a bit of money is with the 50 Box. We've used this for at least 20 years (the children were all really small, now they're all grown up!) and it is a variation on saving loose change, We, as a family these days, never spend a 50 cent coin. They are always put straight into the 50 Box (and yes, it's a real box I made to keep the kids interested all those years ago) and at the end of the year we take it to the bank and convert the contents to cash. Then we use that cash for a treat. The first year we did this it paid for our family farm stay holiday for a week. We've used the money for a family treat every year since. This year we're waiting until Thomas is home so he can share the fun.

Another way is to match the week to the dollar amount you save. So, this being the first week of 2018, you'd save $1. Next week is week 2 so you'd save two dollars and so on, until the last week of the year when you'll add $52 to your savings. Over the year you'll end up with $1,283.

If that sounds too much, you can do the same thing with saving 1c a day. So day 1, 1c; day 2, add 2c for a 3c total - at the end of the first week you'll have 28 cents in your jar. As we don't have 1c coins in circulation anymore, some week's you'll be rounding up. That's OK, you'll have a little extra saved at the end of the year. Oh, and if you're wondering how much you'll have in your jar at the end of the year, it will be at least $667.95 (more if you round up occasionally).

Wayne and Hannah like to empty their purse/wallet/pocket every night into a money box, adding all silver coins. There's no guaranteed amount at the end of the year but during 2017 Hannah emptied her money box every month and averaged $86. Thank goodness for her bank having a coin counter and for not charging to count and cash coins.

Another idea is to save every $5 note you come across this year. Just pretend $5 notes don't exist and put them away till the end of the year when you should have a nice cash lump sum to enjoy!

My Mother would save $1 coins and at the end of the year she would share them between the grandkids as a part of their Christmas gift. She didn't miss the $1, and the children loved getting money to spend during the holidays.

There are so many ways to save a bit of money, without it being a struggle or painful.

Do you have any other fun, painless, simple ways to save a bit of money this year?

04 January 2018

Cleaning the Wheelie Bin

Thursday is garbage pick-up for us, so each week out goes the small wheelie bin, and either the green waste or recycle bins.

We try really hard not to fill them up each week/fortnight, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  Last week the small bin was full, Christmas seemed to increase the rubbish. This week it wasn't quite so full, but it was definitely

We also try to keep the bins clean. After all, especially in an Australian summer, there is nothing quite as disgusting as a stinky bin.

I make sure that anything that goes into the bin is wrapped. I also try to only put things that can't be composted or recycled into the bin - saves space and mess. And if there is anything to go into the bin that is going to stink before pick-up on a Thursday, then I try to remember to wrap it and freeze, putting it in the bin just before it goes out.

But even with all these steps, the bin can get a bit on the nose.

So each Thursday, after they've been emptied, I wheel them around the back and clean them. It's not as hard, or as erky, as you may think, and it only takes about 5 minutes.

I use Miracle Spray and an old long-handled broom, the hose and then surface spray. Now surface spray isn't something I use in the house and I try to minimise its use but we seem to be living on a giant ant colony and they infest the bin within minutes if I don't spray. I do only spray around the top lip - that seems to be enough to keep the ants away.
So I tip the bin upside down, turn the hose onto the stream setting and give the inside a good squirt. This shifts anything that may be stuck to the sides or bottom. Tip the bin upside down to empty, then I turn it right side up, pour in 1 cup of Miracle Spray and fill it about a third with water. I use the old broom to scrub down the sides and bottom until they are sparkling (or as sparkling as an old, green wheelie bin can be). Tip the bin upside down again to empty, then it's turned right side up again and put in the sun to dry.

I let it sit in the sun for a couple of hours - the sun is a good disinfectant and to make sure it is thoroughly dry.

Once it's dry the lip gets a quick spray with the surface spray and it's ready to be put away.

The recycle bin and the green waste bin get the same treatment when they are emptied.

I know some folk swear by kitty litter in the bottom to absorb leaks and odours - I find it too messy for me.

I've also heard that a sprinkle of bicarb in the bottom and over rubbish as it's added helps. Again, this is too messy for me and I just know that I'd be the only one adding the bicarb.

It only takes about five minutes a week to clean the bin and keep it as sweet smelling as a bin can be.

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03 January 2018

My Grocery Budget for 2018

The last three days have seen me going over our spending plan, closing off 2017 and setting up 2018 (we run our household budget on the calendar year).

Not much has changed, although I've been able to increase the grocery budget back up to $320 a month. That's more than three times what we lived on in 2016 and about double what the grocery budget was for 2017.

I feel rich, although it's just gone back to what it was three years ago.

As the pantry is pretty well stocked with 12 months of most things, this budget will be used to replace what we use, fill the freezers and build the slush fund to top-up next year's budget.

This year will see me (again) shopping from the stockpile first, and then looking to see if there is an ingredient I can substitute or MOO, then shopping around for anything we don't have on hand to ensure its bought at the cheapest possible price.

The garden will be supplying as much fresh vegetables and fruits as I can possibly grow. It's had a slow start this season, with most of the veggies just starting to produce (I was late planting for summer), but succession planting will keep the salad veggies coming.

My garden journal will be used to plan the autumn and winter gardens, and the autumn garden is almost planned. The hiccup is our trip in May/June, when we'll be away for six weeks. I know the kids will eat from the garden, but they won't do as much preserving as I'd do, so it’s the quantities I'm rethinking. Once I can get my head around quantities and planting schedules, it will be done.

Because the garden will be slow, I'll be on the look-out for cheap tomatoes, onions, zucchini, cauliflower and cabbage to make sauce, pickles and freezer meals. If I can get onions for under 40c/kg, and tomatoes $5 a box (or hopefully under) towards the end of the month, then I'll be busy and happy.

As the stockpile pantry is full, most shopping will be for dairy, fresh fruit and veg and meat top-ups, so I've calculated that the fortnightly cash withdrawal from the grocery budget will be $40.  That covers $18 for milk, cheese, cream, eggs and bread (if any/all are needed), $10 for fruit and veg top-ups and $12 to buy meat if needed. The balance will stay in the grocery budget, ready to buy meat each quarter and top-up the stockpile at the end of the year.

You may have noticed that I've been slipping in a few extra meatless meals (Cream Cheese Patties, Hot Potato Salad, even Taco Pie can be meatless with the addition of extra beans). The meal plan is done for the year and there are plenty of vegetarian meals listed, with about another third that can easily be converted to meatless/vegetarian without too much change to taste and texture (always a good thing for my meat-loving family).
Here's where my grocery dollars will be going in 2018:

Aldi - for the bulk of basic groceries to replace stockpile items, and for dairy.

Coles/Woolworths - for stockpile top-ups that I can't get at Aldi, if they are on half-price sale.

Pellegrino's - fresh fruit and vegetables as needed, eggs

Farmer Joe's - meat and chicken on sale

Australian Butcher Store - Meat and chicken on sale

Thankfully I don’t' need to consider any food allergies or even extreme food dislikes, always a good thing for a grocery budget. We do have some intolerances, but they are easily worked around so they don't have a financial impact.

And of course as always I'll be doing as much as possible from scratch, although I do have some bottled pizza sauce and three jars of alfredo pasta sauce in the pantry as emergency back-ups.

31 December 2017

A New Year, a New Diary

For a stationery addict like me just the thought of a brand new year sends shivers down my spine because a new year means a new diary.

A whole book, just waiting for me to fill in the blanks, map out plans for  the coming twelve months, set schedules and goals and stay organised.

I love my diary. It's nothing flash - I always use a school diary - they have enough space to write appointments and jot down notes, they are a week to a view, and have all the school and public holidays marked, as well as having space to note special projects, planning etc. But best of all they're sturdy and cheap, and fit neatly in my bag. So much better than any other diary I've tried over the years, and I've tried a few different brands and versions.

Last year I was given a beautiful planner, that has a removable cover, so the old planner has been slipped out and my new diary slipped in. It's pretty and makes me smile, and looks so much more grown-up than my little school diary. It has a nifty little slot for a pen (and yes, I have favourite pens too!) and pockets on the inside of the cover for important stuff like receipts that need to be filed.
One of my very favourite New Year's Eve traditions is shifting  information from my old diary to my new diary.

I mark in birthdays and other special events.

I add the work timetable for The Cheapskates Club.

I add my goals for the year (we have quite a few as a family, Wayne and I have some as a couple and I have some just for me).

I use the yearly planner section to keep track of important dates like birthdays, annual leave, special events etc. so I can see at a glance what's happening if I need to.

To keep it pretty, because I like pretty things, I use coloured markers and stickers to highlight different dates and important events.

Best of all, I use this diary. Every. Single. Day. Of. The. Year.  Because there's no point in taking the time on New Year's Eve to set up a lovely new diary/planner and not use it.

So do you get excited at the thought of a new diary?

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