30 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 30, 2009

Keep the records straight

Keeping good records is essential to keep track of how much money you are spending and how much money you are making. Keeping track of your income and expenses can prevent you from overdrawing your account and will also help you track where you money is going. It’s also useful come tax time when you are trying to prepare those pesky forms. Cheapskates Bill Paying System will help you to keep your records straight. Keeping track in the first place will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run.

29 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 29, 2009

Cut back on treats

It’s hard to resist giving yourself the occasional treat, but consider how much you spend on things like coffee, soft drinks, lollies, chocolates, cakes and biscuits over the course of a month. It can add up very quickly. Treats are just that - treats. When you have them everyday they very quickly lose their "wow" factor and familiarity takes away the pleasure of the occasional treat. You can cut back on these expenses without completely depriving yourself, just remember that treats are not for everyday. You might find that with the money you save you can buy yourself a better treat in the long run.

28 April 2009

Learn to DIY

Almost anything you can pay a service person to do you can learn to do on your own. Hemming your own pants, changing your own oil or doing your own tax, painting, cooking, gardening, carpentry, tiling even concreting and bricklaying can all be things you can learn to do on yourself. Not only does this save money, but you will gain the confidence and satisfaction of knowing you did it all on your own.

27 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 27, 2009

A new house, and it doesn't have to cost a cent

Sick of your same old living room or the squeaking screen door? You don’t need to move house. Sometimes just fixing up or rearranging things around the house can make your space seem like new. Take pride in your home and fix up little things around the house. Embrace your inner interior designer and try moving your couch to the other wall, or changing the curtains. Get a box and go through each room, removing all the ornaments and other clutter, leaving just the furniture. Give each room a good spring clean, starting at the ceiling and working your way down to the floor. Wash the curtains and windows, dust and polish furniture and vacuum or sweep and wash the floor. Re-arrange the furniture if you feel like it. Clean all your ornaments and then go back and put back either one, two or three ornaments (smaller groups have more impact). Improving your surroundings can often have a big impact on improving your mood.

26 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 26, 2009

Break the big jobs down

Sometimes a big project can seem so daunting you hardly know where to begin. If you break it up into smaller parts it can become more manageable, and you’ll be happier feeling like you are making some progress by checking off each of the smaller parts as you complete them. By breaking a big job down into smaller tasks you are much more likely to actually finish it, rather than getting discouraged and putting it aside. A pile of mending can be a breeze if you break it down to smaller tasks i.e. stitch on all the missing buttons one day, fix hems another day and so on. Getting the bank account reconciled won't seem such a big job if you break it down - collect the statements, put the receipts in order, gather pens, notepads etc before you start. Any big (or overwhelming) job can be broken down to smaller steps. Set a time limit and spend no more than 30 minutes on the job without a break.

25 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 25, 2009

Anzac biscuits

100g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of rolled oats
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar

Combine all dry ingredients except bi-carb soda. Add melted butter. Stir in soda mixed with boiling water. Place in spoonfuls on greased tray, allowing room for spreading. Cook in moderate oven about 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Store in airtight container.

24 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 24, 2009

Do less laundry

Do you really need to wash the shirt you wore for 2 hours at dinner? Before you throw that shirt into your laundry hamper, take a second look. Does it really need to be washed or could it go for another wearing? Not so very many years ago clothes were worn more than once, often more than twice and for a lot of people they were worn for a week at a time! With the arrival of automatic washing machines and dryers we seem to have developed the habit of wear it once (even if it is just for an hour) and throw it in the wash. Do yourself a favour and think about the clothes you put in the laundry - do they really need to be washed, can they be aired or sponged and worn again? Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we all wear dirty clothes, but this little action will save time, energy, and help your clothes to last longer.

23 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 23, 2009

The 50 Box

This is one of our favourites. Never spend a 50 cent coin. My children love to check my purse and their father's wallet for 50 cent pieces. Any 50 cent pieces they find go into the 50 box and when we have saved $50, we take it to the bank and deposit it into our holiday savings account. You'll be surprised how many 50 cent coins you accumulate and if you remove them immediately, you don't even miss them. We were able to pay for a family holiday one year just by saving our 50 cent coins!

22 April 2009

5-minute microwave bottling

I am so excited! I found (in Big W) a new book on microwave bottling by Isabel Webb. I first heard Isabel and saw her demonstrate microwave bottling techniques at the Henty Field Days about 14 - 15 years ago. I stood, fascintated, and took down lots of notes on scraps of paper during the demonstration. Wayne and the boys quickly became bored and wandered off (mind you the boys were just 2 and 3 years old at the time), leaving me in a rapt daze.

Microwave bottling was something so new to me, I was still struggling with the old stove-top Fowlers, actually I'm still using the same old stove-top Fowlers outfit, but these days I do a fair bit of microwave bottling too thanks to that wonderful demonstration.

I had to take notes and lots of them because while Isabel had written a beautiful book on the subject, we didn't have the money at the time for me to buy it. Nowadays I have a little more mad money so while it was an impulsive purchase, I've already had a good look through and even tried the drying technique on the last of the apples off the tree (they actually turned out the way the book said they would!).

I've looked on eBay a few times in the hope of picking up one of the original books, but they always went for far more than I was prepared to pay and I have been keeping an eye out in op shops and at garage sales, sure I'd come across one, now I don't have to worry.

The one thing I found most valuable was the information about re-using jam jars, pasta sauce jars etc. They are so much easier to get hold of than the Fowlers jars and of course so much cheaper, generally being free. I've put a request out amongst friends and family to save their jars for me in exchange for a jar or two of jam, pickles or fruit and already they have started to roll in.

I'll do a proper book review and include it in the May Journal after I've tried a few of the recipes and dried a few more fruits, I can't wait to do bananas.

Tip of the Day April 22, 2009

A good use for an old jam jar

Have a savings jar on the fridge. Any loose change you find around the house, in the washing machine, on the floor of the kids' bedrooms, under the sofa cushions or on the floor of the car goes into the jar. When the jar is full, deposit the contents into a savings account. If you don't feel you can afford to "dump" all your loose change into savings, choose a denomination - say all 5c and 10c coins or all silver and just save those. The amount of money in the jar builds quite quickly, it's amazing just how much loose change you can find in a household when you are actively looking for it.

21 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 21, 2009

Banking the difference

Save the difference between budgeted amounts and the actual cost. For example, if you have budgeted $120 for electricity and the bill is $106, pay the bill and bank the remaining $14 directly into a separate savings account. Do this with all your budgeted spending - petrol, phone, even groceries. This method of saving can become a competition to see how far below budget you can get your bills so you can save more. It's a fun way of saving for a specific goal - a holiday, new car, home renovations etc. Get the whole family involved in the "how low can you go" competition with the goal as the prize at the end. Set a time to reach your goal and then see how much you can save.

20 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 20, 2009

The DIY Christmas club

Put away a small amount each month, perhaps $50, to use for Christmas. If you start now, you will have saved $400, plus interest, by the end of November. It's a great feeling to be able to buy gifts and goodies for the festive season, knowing that they are paid for and you won't be paying for them for the next 6 months. Having money saved really takes the stress out of the Christmas season.

19 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 19, 2009

You can save and still enjoy life

If you think you don't make enough to have anything extra in a Peace of Mind account, emergency fund or stocks/bonds etc., try emptying your purse or pockets of change each night. Bank the money each week or fortnight and watch it grow. There are some great Internet bank accounts available that are fee free, have no minimum deposit or balance requirement and pay up to 6% interest. By saving a dollar here and a dollar there you will build up a 'rainy day' fund, ready for emergencies. It will grow quickly and you will really enjoy watching it increase in value.

18 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 18, 2009

No debt today

Take one hour at a time today so you can have 24 hours without adding to your debt. Tell yourself 'I will NOT go into debt today' and repeat each time you are tempted to spend on something that is not covered in your budget. Chances are, when debt is not an option, you will find ways to get what you need, or discover that what you thought you needed was not really necessary at all. We haven't used credit for fourteen years (apart from our mortgage) and we haven't used a credit card since we were married (20 years and counting) and we don't miss it. We live by the creed of 'if you can't pay cash, you can't afford it.'

So today, try to not increase your debt at all.

17 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 17, 2009

Stop debting

This is a word I found in an article I was reading about debt. It's not in the dictionary, but it is a great, descriptive word. You get the meaning immediately. You cannot possibly get out of debt if you continue to get into it, either by continuing to spend your cash reserves or to use credit cards or take on other unnecessary debt. Unnecessary debt is anything at all that you do not need to live: movies, videos, clothing, shoes, holidays, gifts, magazines, newspapers everyday, takeaway meals or eating out etc . Either add these things to your budget so you have the money for them when you need them or do without them. If you don't have the cash to pay for something then you can't have it while you have debt.

16 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 16, 2009

Quick and easy dinner

Occasionally there comes a night when it just seems easier to give in and buy dinner - maybe fish and chips or pizza or bbq chicken - regardless of how much it will cost and how much damage it will do to your budget for the week. Make a list of quick and easy dinners you can whip up from pantry and fridge ingredients so you don't have to give in to temptation. Keep them to meals you can get on the table in under 30 minutes and you'll save time and money.

One of our favourites is good old Mac'n'Cheese

500g macaroni
2 cups water
1/2 cup milk powder (skim or full cream)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup grated cheese
1 tsp mustard powder

Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the packet. Combine the milk powder , mustard powder and plain flour with 1 cup of the water until mixed (no lumps!). In a large saucepan combine the remaining cup of water and the combined water/milk mixture. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted and well combined. Stir through the macaroni. Serve.

It's such a frugal meal too. Today the total cost for 6 serves was a low, low $1.92 or just 32 cents per serve.

Try to have at least two really cheap (ingredients wise) meals a week. They really help to keep the grocery bill down and under budget. When you come in under budget, add half the surplus to the slush fund and half to your savings so you have real motivation to keep the shopping bill low.

15 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 15, 2009

Shop for food that you like to eat

Don’t settle for brands that you won’t eat and don’t taste good to you because they cost less. By all means, try generics and cheaper brands, but if you don't like them then go back to your favourites or look for other ways of having what you like. Here’s one solution: if you like beef stroganoff (for example), don’t buy the prepared dish. Read the label and then buy the ingredients and create the dish you love at home. You could even get more than one meal out of it and save money.

14 April 2009

Get Regular Checkups

A dental visit every six months and a yearly physical have a modest or sometimes no co-pay at all depending on your doctor and health insurance (if your doctor bulk bills services then you will have no out of pocket costs at all). Even a yearly eye exam has a negligible cost and many optometrists will bulk bill the eye test. If you can afford health insurance extras, make sure you use it to maintain or elevate the status quo. Investing in good health is never wasted money.

13 April 2009

Tip of the day April 13, 2009

Look good, feel good, spend less

For most people, having a positive outlook is closely related to feeling good about themselves. Most of us feel good when we look good and when we feel good we don't need emotional spending to lift our attitude so take care of your appearance, and you won't be tempted to spend money to feel good! Style your hair, brush your teeth, put on some makeup, wear a dab of perfume or cologne, get properly dressed - this can be enough to make you feel confident about your appearance and give you a positive outlook on your whole day.

12 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 12, 2009

Read the labels

Food labels give you information to help you make healthy food choices and compare similar foods. Reading food labels can help you to control portion size, keep track of the fat and calories in each food, and make sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals. Reading food labels can also save you money - they list the ingredients in the product, in order of quantity (most at the top), giving you a list of what you need to make a "cheats version" at home. MOOing your favourite packet foods lets you control the ingredients, leaving out the artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings.

11 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 11, 2009

Eating the right portions

Red meat can be one of the most expensive things to buy at the supermarket and eating too much of it can also have consequences to your health. On average, people who eat less meat weigh less than those individuals who eat meat more frequently. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out all meat, but you should exercise moderation when adding meat to your diet. The same applies to dairy products, fruits, vegetables and grains. To simplify choosing the right foods in the right proportions, Nutrition Australia has developed the Healthy Eating pyramid. It arranges foods into three groups – showing which foods we should eat most often, in moderate amounts, and least often. There is a reason for the healthy eating pyramid, and that is to keep our diets healthy, but a definite side benefit is the positive effect healthy eating can have on our grocery budget. Sticking to the recommended portion sizes will not only help your health but your budget too.

10 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 10, 2009

Visit booklover's heaven

Do you love to read? Most people read the latest bestseller and then it goes up on the bookshelf to collect dust. Or a recipe book is bought for one recipe or even worse those appetizing photos and then left on the shelf. Hardly ever is a book read and reread (even in our house and we all love reading and have definite favourites). If you're not an avid reader or really attached to your books you could have thousands of dollars sitting on shelves around your house collecting dust. Instead, hit the public library to find your literary favorites. A membership is free and so is checking out books. If you want to renew, do it for free before the book expires. Some libraries have an automated system for renewal so you don’t have to go back and forth to the library. Libraries also have great DVDs and CDs that you can borrow, the latest magazines, fantastic resources for special projects, free talks for adults and story times for children. And the price is right - absolutely free!

09 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 9, 2009

Use it or lose it

Whether you’re seeking to advance in your career or to simply explore your interests, learning new things can be a wonderful way to keep your mind active and life interesting. Learning something new doesn’t always mean that you need to take a formal class. It can be as simple as picking up a newspaper and reading all the stories, not just the ones that interest you. It can be as simple as logging in to the Member's Centre every day and checking out the Latest Tips or the newest Forum messages. You can learn a new skill or do some research to add to something you are already skilled at. Learning new things can open you up to new possibilities and ideas you hadn’t previously considered, and this practice could expand your outlook on life.

Here are some ideas to get you started:
ASX Free online investment classes
Short Courses Victoria

08 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 8, 2009

MOO Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies can be expensive and many are filled with chemicals that are harmful to the environment and potentially to your family. Fortunately, you can make many of the same cleaning solutions at home for a fraction of the cost and with things you might already have around the house. For example, you can make a simple glass cleaner from ammonia, rubbing alcohol and water. Always make sure to follow a tried and true recipe, however, as some combinations could produce unwanted reactions.

There is one basic cleaning product I make which I use from benchtops to the bathroom. It has a strong smell but cleans very well!

Extra Strength Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Cost: $0.62 for 4 litres cleaner

1/4 cup bicarb soda
3/4 cup household ammonia
1/2 cup white vinegar
4 litres warm water
2 drops of food coloring (optional)

Mix all ingredients and store. Pour into spray bottle when needed.

Window Cleaner
Cost: $0.10 for 250ml extra strong window cleaner

1/2 tsp washing up detergent
3 tbsp vinegar
2 cups water
1 drop blue food colouring (optional)

Blend well and store in spray bottle.

Vinegar Window Cleaner
Cost: $0.10 for 4 litres window/mirror cleaner

1/2 cup white vinegar
4 litres warm water

Just mix and scrub. When washing windows, using newspaper is best.

Furniture Polish
This is so easy to make, and it works!
Cost: $1.13 for 375ml furniture polish

1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup lemon juice

Pour oil and lemon juice into a squirt bottle or jar. Stir to combine. To use, dip dust cloth or rag into oil, blot the oil by folding the cloth together, and then dust your furniture. Leaves a beautiful finish!

There are lots of recipes for cleaning products and tips on how to use them in the Member's Centre so login and then go to DIY Cleaning Solutions.

07 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 7, 2009

Lose the "stuff"

Inevitably, we all collect "stuff" as we go through life. But sometimes this stuff simply becomes clutter and we need to figure out what is worth the effort to keep and what is simply crowding our space, sapping energy and motivation. Go through your old items and get rid of anything you don’t want or things that you haven’t used in the past year. This includes clothes, toys, books, kitchen gadgets and utensils, tools, furniture, jewellery, stationery, shoes and handbags, baby things - absolutely anything you have that isn't used or loved or that doesn't make you smile. Pass it on, donate to charity, Freecycle it or sell it. You’d be surprised how little you miss these things, and there will be much less sitting around gathering dust.

Not sure where to go to pass on your stuff? Try any of these resources:


06 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 6, 2009

Home Roasted Peanuts

My husband likes to roast his own Peanuts. This is his roasting recipe:

2 cups raw peanuts
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Place two cups raw peanuts on a tray (he uses a pizza tray). Bake for 10 minutes. Mix salt with water and pour over nuts immediately after taking out of oven. Turn oven off, return peanuts to oven and leave door open slightly till nuts are cooled. YUM!

Check out Oriental and Continental supermarkets. There are some great bargains to be found at these shops. My husband is crazy about nuts and figs! To know if the prices at these smaller shops are better than what you are paying at your local supermarket note down on your shopping list the price you are paying now and compare with these shops. Not all items will be cheaper than your supermarket, although we have compared our favourites with Woolies and found them cheaper and the quality much better. - Contributed by Liz, Sydney

05 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 5, 2009

With Easter only a few days away and kids on school holidays looking for something to do, this tip from a Cheapskater is a fun way to celebrate Easter without the expense.

You don't have to buy chocolate moulds - use your imagination and see what you have at home- egg cups, ice cube trays (these are the perfect size for filled chocolates), jelly moulds, small cake moulds, spoons etc Chocolate making is a great group activity and doesn't have to cost a fortune.

Easter Treats Chocolate Making Day

Every Good Friday I gather my daughter's friends and mine too and have a chocolate making day. You can buy the chocolate moulds very cheap on eBay or even at your confectionery store or Spotlight for under $3.50! Last week I decided to be an early bird and at a store in Bendigo I was fortunate to come across some older stock (the plastic had slightly yellowed as moulds don't have a huge life expectancy) for only 50 cents each!!!!!!!! That was an amazing find. ALSO if you like filled chockies and eggs do not waste money buying the expensive filling and fondants. Hazlenut spread (like Nutella) is delicious filling, if you love strawberry fill just use jam and icing sugar and for creamier fillings use icing sugar and any flavoured topping mixed well! The flavour possibilities are endless. Just use your imagination and trial and error will do the trick. I just think that an Easter egg making session with the kids all together is a messy but memorable experience! If you want to get really crafty buy white chocolate buddies, and colour it with powdered food colouring (liquid colours destroy to chocolate) and watch your kids artistic ability fly! Happy Easter to all! - Contributed by Paula, California Gully

03 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 3, 2009

Never miss paying a bill on time

Schedule a time each week to sit down and take care of your bills. If possible, set up your major bills to all be due on the same payment schedule. Use the Cheapskates Club's Bill Paying System to keep your finances in order. It will save you money, time and energy and take away the worry and stress of not paying bills on time.

Tip of the Day readers can get their free Bill Paying System here.

02 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 2, 2009

Taking the proper care

So you’ve finally found the perfect jumper/couch/pair of shoes, don’t let your intrepid purchase fall apart before its time. To make sure your purchase lasts as long as possible take care of it appropriately. Read the labels to learn the recommended care procedure and then follow it. Mending holes and taking care of stains immediately and putting things away where they belong will help prolong the life of your favourite things.

01 April 2009

Tip of the Day April 1, 2009

New life for old goods

Just because you’ve lost a use for an item in it’s original purpose doesn’t mean it’s garbage. Experiment with using items around the house in creative ways. Turn your old ice cube trays into places to store jewellery. Have a wine rack you don’t use? Turn it into a magazine rack. Old toolbox lying around? Clean it up and turn it into a sewing box, those compartments are great for storing cottons, needles, tape measures etc. Look around your house to figure out your own solutions for reusing items and creating less rubbish. The money you save by creative thinking will soon add up.