28 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 28, 2009

A Hardware Shop in Your Garage

Next time you plan to do some handiwork around the house, check carefully what you have from last time. I'm always surprised at what hardware items we already have - such as glues, screws, paintbrushes and paint etc. Doing this can save a lot of money (and time!) at the hardware store.

27 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 27, 2009

Best Bug Bait

Ants and cockroaches are invading everywhere at the moment. To rid your home of these disease carrying pests try this bait. It's safe to use in your home and much cheaper than commercial baits and poisons.

Simply mix equal quantities of honey and borax powder together. Spread into jam jar lids and leave in strategic places (under the fridge, at the back of the cupboard under the kitchen sink, under the stove, washing machine etc).

The creepy crawlies love this stuff and they go away to die after feasting on it. No need for dangerous and toxic sprays and poisons to be used. This bait really works.

26 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 26, 2009

Clean Smelly Hands

There is a product available known as Stainless Steel Soap, designed to rid your hands of strong odours such as onion or fish or other unpleasant smells.

There is a cheaper alternative, readily available in any home, that works just as well to rid your hands of odours: stainless steel! Just rub your hands over the kitchen tap (or sink) while washing them and the odours will disappear. This works every time, without fail.

25 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 25 2009

Use Less

The easiest and most simple way to save money (and time and energy and resources) is simply to use less - of everything. When you brush your teeth, make sure you turn off the tap. When you leave the room, turn off the lights and the TV. We almost always remember to take our green bags to the supermarket, but what about for other shopping? Say no to plastic bags and save money and our environment. Run full loads in the washing machine and the dishwasher. Mulch the garden to use less water. Use a timer in the shower. Walk rather than use the car whenever possible. These are simple solutions that will help you to use less of everything, reduce your monthly bills and save energy, thereby reducing your impact on the environment.

24 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 24 2009

Getting Fit on a Budget

Getting fit can cost you a fortune, however it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t need to spend a fortune on your sports and fitness gear. Take advantage of clearance centres and factory outlets where possible, you can pick up $180 joggers for $50-80. Alternatively look at discount retailers like Big W or Kmart - they are often 10-20% less than the sports stores and gym prices – even better when they have a 20% discount sale. Remember that Myer, DJ’s and major sports retailers offer huge discounts at clearance and their 6 monthly sales.

23 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 23, 2009

Pouring Oil on Troubled Babies

It's hard to pour baby oil (I used light olive or almond on my babies rather than a mineral based oil), especially if you're trying to hold down a wriggly baby! You either get too much or it spills all over the change table. If you take an old roll-on bottle and wash it out really well, you can put some baby oil into it and replace the ball. You now have roll-on baby oil! No more spills, stains or waste.

22 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 22, 2009

Sayings to Save By

Use one or all of these mantras to help you evaluate your spending habits:

1. Is this a need or a want?
Movies, holidays, computers, mobile phones, internet access and fast food are all examples of luxuries that you can live without.

2. Sweat the small stuff
A couple dollars here and there add up quickly. A cappuccino for $2.20 may not seem like much, but one a day, every day for a year adds up to a whopping $803!

3. Free is good
Listen to the radio instead of buying CDs, watch free TV instead of cable, go to the library, walk in the park.

4. Will I still want this tomorrow?
Don t buy on impulse. Wait 24 hours to be sure you really want it. If you think it will be gone before then, ask the store to put a 24 hour hold on that particular item.

21 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 21, 2009

Lavender Blue

Great-grandma had the right idea. Plant lavender in pots and collect the flowers to use in sachets. Keep them in your drawers and linen cupboards, in boxes of stored clothing, blankets etc to keep them smelling sweet and fresh and help repel silverfish and moths.
Hang sprigs of lavender tied in bunches on the hanging rail in your wardrobe and tie them to coat hangers to scent your clothes all year round. Lavender sachets are expensive to buy, but you can have fresh ones every year if you grow your own.

20 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 20, 2009

Tracking Water Use

Has the water bill got you stumped? Does your bill seem too high, your water usage over the suggested 155 litres per person per day no matter what you do to cut back? Maybe the meter is not tracking your usage correctly. Here's how to check. Turn off all water sources inside the house and take a metre reading. Now fill a 10 litre container three times and take a second reading. The meter should show a 30 litre increase. If you see a discrepancy you need to track down the leaky culprit if you possibly can. Before you call your water company's repair number and arrange for a service call (which could end up costing you) take a good look around for leaks - the toilets, slowly dripping taps (indoors and outside), look around the yard for signs of leaking water pipes. You can usually fix leaking taps and toilets yourself with simple supplies from any hardware shop. Underground leaks are more difficult and usuall require expert advice. If you suspect an underground leak then contact your water company or the plumber of your choice.

19 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 19, 2009

Spud Saver

To keep potatoes from sprouting, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes and store them in a cool, dry, dark place. I keep mine on the pantry floor in a wooden box lined with a hessian sack and an apple in the middle of the pile. They keep for ages without any spoiling.

18 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 18, 2009

Sticking Plates to a Tray

Serving a meal on a tray? A flat rubber jar opener under the dinner plate keeps it in place. Cut up old hot water bottles to use as jar openers if you have them. Saves spending $2.95 buying them, and they will be tougher and larger. Alternately, a slightly dampened face washer will do the same job, and also double as a finger towel for after the meal. For smaller mats, to use under mugs and glasses, cut the backs off rubber gloves once they get holes in them. It makes breakfast in bed and meals on a tray a little more secure!

17 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 17, 2009

Not Just for Fish 'n Chips

Did you know that vinegar, the strength readily available in grocery stores, is a non-toxic antibacterial cleaner? Keep a spray bottle full in your kitchen and another one in your bathroom. Use it in the kitchen to spray clean your sink, countertops, and cutting boards. In the bathroom, disinfect the toilet bowl, and leave your sink & mirror sparkling clean. Wipe with a clean dry cloth, or a paper towel.

16 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 16, 2009

How to Use a Broken Washing Basket

Use the bottom of an old plastic laundry basket as a boot tray for muddy shoes. Just cut the broken plastic top off and put it aside. I used a pair of pruning shears to cut the ribs off mine, but a sharp knife or a good pair of scissors would do the same. It sits by the back door and the kids just take their dirty boots and shoes off and drop them in the tray. It keeps the mud and dirt in one spot and the verandah, door mat and floor clean.

Use the top as a bird and cat net in the garden. Simply push the ends down into the soil to form a cage over the top of your plants. They can still get plenty of sun and water but the birds and cats can't get to them. I've saved all the zucchini and cucumber plants by doing this in the veggie garden this summer.

15 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 15, 2009

DIY Disposable Duster

Make a throw-away duster from old newspapers. Roll together a couple of sections of plain black and white newspaper. Tie the bundle in the middle with a piece of string or a good heavy rubber band. Cut a long fringe on one end with a pair of sharp scissors (this is the duster part)...the other end is the handle. Now you can dust the cobwebs out of the high places and chase the dust bunnies out from under the couch. For extra high spots (we have cathedral ceilings in our lounge room) and outside around the house (they are great for under the eaves) use a rubber band to fasten the "handle" to the end of a broom stick and dust away. Just pitch the whole thing when it gets dirty. I like this idea because it means one less "thing" to have to keep track of and it makes cleaning in those extra high spots easy.

14 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 14, 2009

Micro Fibre Magic

Since first trying micro-fibre cleaning cloths about three years ago I've fallen in love with them. I've tried the expensive brands (Enjo and the less expensive Sabco and Oates brands) and I've tried the cheaper brands (Mr Clean, from dollar shops). Honestly, the cheaper brands have worked just as well for me as the more expensive. Yes, it's true they don't last as long. But recommendations are that the more expensive brands need to be replaced every twelve months if they are used regularly. I've been able to get 4 – 6 weeks of constant daily use out of the cheaper brands before I've had to delegate them to "rag" status and put them outside to use on the bbq and car.

Micro fibre cleaning cloths are just fantastic if you have allergies or are environmentally conscious. They use cold water and the cloth to clean like magic. The trick is to remember to use cold water. Hot water causes any grease on the surface you're cleaning to soften and spread rather than stick to the fibres in the cloth.

At just $2 each they cost between $16 - $24 a year, a big saving on the more expensive brands for just as good a result.

13 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 13, 2009

Dough Fun

When my children were little they loved getting out the cookie cutters and the rolling pin and tubs of homemade playdough. I would put a plastic tablecloth down on the floor to catch the crumbs and they would be busy little beavers, rolling and cutting (and even occasionally snacking on) the brightly coloured dough.

Homemade playdough is much cheaper than the bought stuff and it lasts a long time, even if they leave it out.

Even though the boys are teenagers, they still use playdough. Thomas had a video project to do for school last year and guess what – he made the scenery out of playdough.

It is very easy to make, and only costs a few cents.

Here's my favourite playdough recipe:

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp oil
food colouring

Mix the salt and flour. Stir the food colouring and oil into the water and add to the dry ingredients. Use your hands to knead into a pliable dough. Or, if you have a food processor, dump the whole lot into the bowl and pulse until it all comes together.

When it looks like playdough, dump it onto the bench and knead for a few minutes. That's it!

I keep it in recycled takeaway food containers (the ones with the lids, like Chinese takeaway) or ziplock style plastic bags in the fridge.

Go wild with the colours for hours and hours of cheap fun.

12 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 12, 2009

Five Household Basics Keep the Whole House Clean

Commercially made, chemical-based household cleaners can eat up a large chunk of your household budget. There are cleaners for windows, mirrors, bench tops, cupboard doors, walls, sinks, enamel cook tops, ceramic cook tops, ovens, stainless steel appliances, wooden floors, vinyl floors, ceramic tiles, carpet, bathrooms, toilets, kitchens and laundries. You could almost fill a small supermarket with just cleaning items.

Instead of spending your hard-earned dollars on these things, just a few simple, safe and cheap everyday items will clean your whole house.

Bicarbonate soda is a gentle, moderately alkaline, non-toxic abrasive which cuts through grease and oil because it reacts with the fatty acids to form a mild detergent. Use it to clean, deodorize and buffer (you can even clean your teeth with it).

Lemon juice is a natural bleach which can be used for stain removal, deodorizing and mould inhibiting. And lemons are free if you have a lemon tree or if you know someone who does!

Salt is a natural and gentle abrasive and disinfectant, that's useful for clearing drains and scouring utensils. It is very cheap and readily available.

White vinegar is a moderately strong acid that can remove bathroom scum and hard water deposits as well as discolouration from metals such as aluminium, brass, bronze and copper. It can also remove rust stains on iron. White vinegar will clean moss off bricks and concrete, just
remember they are porous and it is an acid. Rinse well with water after cleaning.

Eucalyptus oil removes stains on carpet. Simply put eucalyptus oil in a spray atomizer, spray generously on the stain, and wipe with a clean absorbent cloth. It is also very useful for getting sticky stuff off almost anything.

11 February 2009

Know Your Biggest Monthly Grocery Expenses

Do you know which grocery items you spend the most on at the supermarket? How much more do you spend on them than other items? How many do you buy a month? If you don't know the answers to these questions, it's good to take the time to find out. Start by writing down what you believe your biggest expenses are and then spend the next few weeks tracking the quantity of each item you purchase and how much you spend. You can use our Grocery Tracking Spreadsheet to help you keep track.

After a few weeks of tracking, you'll start to see your biggest expenses. Some you may have expected, but some may surprise you! Once you know what your biggest grocery expenses are you can determine whether you need to be spending so much on them and look for ways to trim the cost.

10 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 10, 2009

Living With Cash!

If you don't have the cash, don't buy it. This is the simplest thing and yet it can be so difficult, especially when credit is involved. Somehow paying for something with a little plastic card doesn't send the "warning: spending in progress" alarm off in the brain. For years credit has been easy, too easy, to get. What is forgotten is that it comes with a very steep price.

Think of it this way: when you buy something on credit (that wasn't budgeted for) you don't own it until you've paid it off - the buying price and the interest if you don't pay the credit card bill immediately. Living on a cash budget and sticking to the $100/24 Hour Rule might not be what everyone else is doing but they will help you to live below your means and build up savings for the tough times and own everything you buy.

09 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 9, 2009

Start a Slush Fund

Allow a set amount of money each week for bargain buys. I call this my slush fund and it is a budgeted item. $5 or $10 a week is added to the slush fund so that you can stock up on extra soap powder, butter, breakfast cereals, toilet paper, meat etc when they are on sale using your slush fund money. This way you will always be able to pick up a bargain without putting a strain on your budget. You can build your slush fund quite quickly by adding the excess grocery money to it after you have done your shopping. No bargains this week? No problem, just let your slush fund build up. You'll find a bargain soon enough.

08 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 8, 2009

Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is just as real as a thief in the night. It is a growing concern now that credit is more difficult to obtain. The tight credit market increases the motive for people who stoop to the level of stealing your identity to gain access to credit. Every day someone will contact me to tell me they don't like to use their credit card online as it isn't safe, they would much rather phone me and give me their credit card number, the expiry date, the name on the card and the security code over the phone or fill out an application form and post it to me. I'm not sure which is worse. Neither of these methods of payment is secure or safe.

Protect your personal financial information by shredding financial documents (in fact any document with your full name and address on it, even envelopes) and paying your bills electronically. Using a secure online payment systems is far safer than putting your credit card details on paper for all the world to see or reading them out over the phone to a complete stranger. If you don't have a shredder then you can tear the documents into small pieces and either add them to your compost bin or worm farm or spread them onto a sheet of newspaper and then wrap the veggie peelings in it before dropping it into your garbage bin.

Remember, most identity theft is done by someone you know.

07 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 7, 2009

Limit Your Spending Power

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) make getting cash very easy. Look at your bank statements if you need proof. See all those $40, $50, $100 ATM withdrawals listed? Can you account for all that cash? Probably not. And take notice of the fees you have paid for the privilege of accessing your money by ATM too. If you need cash, make an ATM withdrawal from one of your bank's own ATMs or get cash added to an EFTPOS transaction, perhaps when you do the groceries or fill the car up.

06 February 2009

Tip of the Day February 6, 2009

Hide It Before You Can Spend It

Out of sight is out of mind - and when it comes to money out of sight means in the bank. In sight eventually means out of the wallet. So, get your money out of sight before you can spend it. Set up a direct debit transfer from your main bank account to another bank account - one that you don't have a card or chequebook for so that it is difficult for you to get to that money. You will be amazed at how much you can save in a year when you don't notice it - and you won't notice it if it doesn't even hit your everyday account.

05 February 2009

The Weekly No Buy Day

Choose one day a week as a no buy day, when you leave your money and credit/debit cards at home. Take notice of what you are tempted by - these are the things that most likely help your money disappear.

For Advanced Cheapskates: Jot down the prices of the things you would have bought if you'd had the money on you (the coffee or the packet of biscuits at the supermarket on the way home, lunch because you couldn't be bothered packing it etc). Total it up at the end of the day and immediately move that money into your emergency fund.

04 February 2009

Check the Checker

As it's essential spending only this month, pay particular attention to your cash register dockets and receipts. Keep an eye out for incorrectly charged items as the checkout operator scans them. Over the course of a lifetime a person could be overcharged as much as 20% and they are much more common than most consumers believe. If you find a discrepancy, ask about it straight away. The major supermarkets follow the voluntary Scanning Code of Practice. Under the code supermarkets who are signatories to the Code are required to ensure the accuracy of their pricing procedures and checkout systems. If a customer finds an item that has scanned incorrectly they may be entitled to that item free of charge. You can download a copy of the Code here.

03 February 2009

The 10% Grocery Cut

Cut your grocery bill by 10% this week. If you normally spend $200 a week, this week you are only going to spend $180. Check what you have on hand before you go shopping (fridge, freezer, pantry) and only buy what you really need rather than what you think you need. Then shop for those things within your new grocery budget. If you come in with an even bigger saving, well done. And don't forget to pay some off debt and put the rest to your emergency account.

02 February 2009

To Save Money - STOP SPENDING!

Seriously, stop spending money - no more clothes, magazines, toys, makeup, computer bits and bobs, shoes etc. For four weeks use your money to pay the essential living expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, food - bare bones basics, fares/petrol) and see just how much is left over at the end of the month. Then use 50% of that money to pay down debt and 50% to increase (or start) your emergency fund. You must bank the leftover money - it is not saved until it is safely in the bank it is just not spent.

01 February 2009

Essential Spending Month

Essential spending is just that: spending money (and that includes credit) only on essentials.

Essential spending would be:
Utilities: gas, electricity, phone, water (but look for ways to save on these too)
Food: but shop at home first
Medical/pharmacy: don't scrimp on your health – the future cost would be far too great
Petrol: unless you can walk everywhere you'll need your car. But try to limit how far you go and how often you use it. Carpool if you can, share the school run with another mother, make one trip and do all your errands.

And before you spend, look for the alternatives:
Do you have something that you can use as a substitute?
Grate a bar of soap and dissolve it in water instead of buying soap powder. You'll only need to use a very little to get the washing clean.
Mix garlic, dishwashing detergent and water to use as an insect spray on the garden.
Use a cup cake tin to make muffins – you'll get more from the recipe, too.
Before hitting the supermarket, shop at home. Is there anything in the pantry that you can use up? Be creative, you may come up with a future family favourite.
Cook and bake instead of buying.
Empty the freezer, use up all those mystery packages – make every night surprise dinner night.

I challenge you to make February your essential spending month.