30 June 2010

It's the End of the Financial Year

And time to check your Spending Plan.  If you think you can't stick to a Spending Plan, you are wrong. You can, when you have the right Spending Plan. A good Spending Plan is like a map. It shows you where you are headed and where you take a wrong turn and how to get back on track. To plan the best route though you need to know exactly where you are now. To do this you need to know how much you are spending and on what so start tracking. Jot down all your spending for the next month, the lotto ticket, the coffee, that newspaper, the groceries, petrol, rent or mortgage payments, chemist bills - every time you spend money, either by card or cash, record it. At the end of the month you'll have a very clear picture of where you are headed. Try to trim the expenses that are not that important to you and be flexible.  A Spending Plan is meant to change with your lifestyle and circumstances.

29 June 2010

$2 Dinner Tuesday - Seasoned Rice

Rice based dishes are very cheap and Seasoned Rice makes a great side dish, or add some extra ingredients and turn it into a one-pot main meal.   Leftover meat or chicken, salmon or tuna, even leftover cooked veggies can be added at the end of the cooking time to create delicious dinners.

Seasoned Rice
1 cup long-grain rice
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups hot water

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the rice, stirring constantly, until it takes on a translucent quality; do not let the kernels pop. Slowly stir in the water, then the flavouring of your choice. Bring to a full boil; cover and lower heat. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes, or until nearly all of liquid is absorbed and the rice looks just a bit too moist to serve. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for ten minutes before uncovering and serving.


3 chicken stock cubes, crushed
1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
3 dashes ground black pepper

3 beef stock cubes, crushed
3 dashes ground black pepper

3 onion or beef stock cubes, crushed
2 teaspoons finely diced onion
3 dashes ground black pepper

3 chicken or beef stock cubes, crushed
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
3 dashes ground black pepper

3 chicken stock cubes, crushed
3 tablespoons dried celery flakes
3 dashes ground black pepper

3 chicken stock cubes, crushed
1 teaspoon curry powder

3 chicken stock cubes, crushed
1 pinch saffron
1 pinch turmeric

3 chicken stock cubes, crushed
1 small onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons dried celery flakes
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tbsp soy sauce

3 chicken stock cubes, crushed
1/2 green capsicum, diced
1 small onion, finely diced
dash of chilli powder
2 tbsp tomato paste

28 June 2010

The Golden rule for furniture care

I love antiques and have collected some  beautiful, old pieces of furniture over the years (the rest of our furniture is just plain old, we have three kids), so taking care of them properly, to keep them in tip top shape and protect their value (monetary and sentimental) is important.  The golden rule of antiques is do as little as possible to the original construction and finish of an item.  Tempting though it is to strip and re-finish that table or chest of drawers, or reupholster that chair, by doing so you can drastically reduce the value of the item and even damage it beyond repair, making it totally worthless. The same rule applies to all your furniture. Before you attack it in the hope of restoring it to it's original glory, no matter how old it is, stop and think about the original appearance, finish  and construction. If you are not sure how to look after your furniture, seek professional advice, it will be worth your time and effort. You'll still be able to restore it yourself, but you'll be doing the job properly and really caring for your furniture.

27 June 2010

An effective snail barrier

Slugs and snails can destroy a garden overnight if the gardener isn't vigilant. An effective and very frugal solution to this problem is newspaper.  Simply shred newspaper and spread it around the base of your plants. Then just dampen it slightly and sprinkle with bi-carb soda. The damp newspaper is a gourmet delight for the snails while the bi-carb acts as a poison to them.

26 June 2010

Don`t be the First on the Bandwagon

A great way to save money is to delay trends. The media is great at hyping movies, CDs etc. that really may not be very good. Wait a while - use this time to read reputable reviews and make up your own mind. This can save you loads of money. For example, I did not read any of the Twilight books when they first came out: I waited until they were available at the library (even if I reserved them the most I would pay is $8). Considering that they retail for at least $20 each, this give me a net profit of $72. Similarly, I could rent the Twilight movies from the library (if I reserved them - $4) and as they retail for approximately $30, this has given me a net profit of $56. Think about it - this saves heaps of shelf space and you do eventually get to see it/read it...just a little later! 

Contributed by Ruth Shanahan

25 June 2010

The Three Year Credit Rule

When you are buying any appliance on credit remember this rule: the item must have a useable life expectancy of more than three years and you must have it paid off, completely, in under three years.  These days technology is changing so fast that you will be stuck with an obsolete lemon before you own it.

24 June 2010

Toothpaste - Not Just for Teeth

Want to remove a stain without damaging the smooth surface of furniture and benchtops? Use toothpaste. The extra mild abrasives in toothpaste remove stains without scratching the surface. I have used toothpaste to remove stains on kitchen benchtops and in the bathroom handbasin. It also works on small rust stains. Toothpaste is great for cleaning white leather - your joggers will come up like new. Simply rub a dab into the stain for about 30 seconds and wipe it away.

So what do you use toothpaste for?

23 June 2010

It's sale time

It's the end of the financial year and the sales are on. With only a few days to go until the end of the financial year, now is a great time to be buying those big ticket items such as cars, furniture, whitegoods and electronics. You'll pick up some great deals off the catalogues but you can do better if you try these simple steps:

1.Know what you want - do your research before you hit the shops.
2.Know how much you are prepared to spend - and don't forget that is your absolute upper limit.
3.Don't be afraid to ask the question "Is this your best price?" - if you don't ask, you won't get.
4.Always be polite and friendly - the sales people are only doing the job they are paid to do.
5.Value add - if you can't shift the price, ask for free extended warranty, delivery, upgrades etc
6.Be prepared to haggle - ask for a cash discount if you have cash, a seniors discount if you are a senior etc

22 June 2010

$2 Dinner Tuesday - Feed the Family with Six Burgers

In these times of making the most of every dollar I spend when I shop, I have had to make some changes to my family's eating habits. My family love rissoles and hamburgers for dinner but to buy them from the supermarket costs me $4.00 for six burgers. The kids are fussy about eating veggies and burgers on their own just aren't enough for growing bones so I came up with an idea that has added a heap of hidden healthy ingredients and increased the size of my meal by more than double. I have just made my six burgers into seventeen by following these really simple and extra healthy steps. My youngest still eats mashed veggies, so I mashed up the six ready made burgers back into a mince, mix in an egg, some wholemeal flour and wholegrain breadcrumbs, a couple of cups of grated cheese and four generous scoops of the mashed veggie mix then season to taste. I then re-roll the mixture into burgers, coating them lightly with the breadcrumbs and cooking them. Now my girls have a burger with some sauce in a wholemeal bun, but hidden within the burger is up to eight different veggies, eggs, cheese and of course lots of fibre. The added bonus to this recipe is that all the family can enjoy burgers because now there are seventeen to share rather than six! My husband loves them in some bread (he is a self confessed meataholic - never, ever eats veggies!), I enjoy them with some sautéed veggies and gravy on the side. All in all, I have increased the amount of food on the table, increased the nutritional value and fed a family of four with no leftovers! My meal just cost us approximately $2 per person and we are all stuffed full. 

Contributed by Charisa, Pooraka

21 June 2010

Cross stitch doesn't have to be expensive

My six year old daughter has started doing cross stitch and to avoid it being an expensive hobby I have checked out local op shops. So far I have discovered over fifty different colours of DMC threads (some slightly used, but a lot brand new). In total I have spent about $4-00 for the lot. This is a big saving compared to buying brand new.

Contributed by Kathryn, Doncaster East

20 June 2010

Give the gift of perennials

Don't waste your money on that lovely bunch of flowers or that over-priced potted plant. Instead look at the plants in your garden. What do you have that you can divide and re-pot? Flowers that grow from bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips are easy to divide.  After they have flowered, gently lift them from the garden and pull off the small bulbs that  have formed around the original bulb.  Re-plant these in a suitable pot filled with a good potting mix and you have a beautiful gift that will keep on giving.

19 June 2010

Dining out on a seriously tight budget

Even when the dollars are scarce you can enjoy the occasional restaurant meal. Clip restaurant coupons out of the paper or from the back of your shopping dockets and keep them in the back of your purse or handbag for future use.  Also make a note of any specials like "$9.95 all you can eat pizza and pasta" or "buy one main course get one free " nights at your favourite restaurants. If you have children, look for "kids eat free" nights. Many restaurants will have specials to attract business on otherwise slow nights, such as Mondays and Tuesdays. Be sure to check your bill to make sure the discount was included. One of our local restaurants advertises "all mains $9.95" on Wednesday nights, but they only give you the discount if you specifically ask for it when ordering.

18 June 2010

Form A Super Sale Group and Save

Most department stores (especially K-mart and Target) have sales; but at the end of the season, they need to clear stock drastically. On particular days, you can buy clothes for ridiculous prices e.g. $1!! The trick is to be in the right place at the right time. To improve your chances of knowing these times, get together with family, friends, school mothers, colleagues etc and have an email or text system. If you see these cheap racks- notify your group! That way you will have a greater chance of knowing. Its harder for teens, but for young children, you can save money buy buying for the next season in the next size up- nice surprise too when you pull them out in the future.

Contributed by Mandy, Hornsby

17 June 2010

How to clear a blocked drain

We've all seen it happen: we pull the plug and instead of the sink full of water whooshing down the drain it dribbles slowly, putting dread into our very souls.  Before you call the plumber, try this DIY drain solution.  To help dissolve grease and gunk in kitchen and laundry sinks and scum and hair in sluggish bathroom basin and bath drains, pour a mixture of 1cup of salt, 1 cup bicarb soda and ½ cup white vinegar into the drain. Put the plug in and leave it alone for 15 minutes. Then flush with a kettle of boiling water followed by flushing hot tap water down the drain for 1 minute. You can repeat this process if necessary.  Keep your drains clean and clear with a monthly treatment.

Salt will keep small roots from taking up residence in your pipes.

16 June 2010

Be prepared to haggle

We all go shopping with good intentions of haggling an extra fantastic deal on whatever it is we are buying. But often we forget our good intentions as soon as we walk through the store door.  When the salesman approaches you, ask the question "How much for cash?" if you are paying cash. Wait for their response and then ask for Seniors discount if it applies, or if they would throw in delivery, installation, etc. Don't give up after the first question, keep talking and asking the question throughout the conversation. And when you get your discount always be appreciative, no matter how much; a dollar in your pocket is better than a dollar in someone else's!’

15 June 2010

Multi Cooking for One

I spent many frustrated evenings trying to convert recipes from four serves to one. I would shop and end up with food not all used and getting thrown out at the end of the week. Such a waste of money. I researched the library and book shops to buy a book of recipes for one and there are not many on the market or a huge variety. I decided I had to find a way to save money, time, waste and still have delicious meals. Now I find recipes I really like that are four serves and I shop and cook for four. I have one meal that night and freeze the other three for the next three weeks. Now I have no food wastage, I have a collection of different meals in the freezer which can be rotated and a choice of what I feel like that night. My shopping bill has lowered because of no waste and my meal choice has increased up to a month at a time. I am collecting favourite recipes to add to my collection to give me a variety of choices so I don't get sick of the same meal two nights in a row, just to use up ingredients and I have no dollars going into the bin. My shopping list is now food that is all used and I save about $25 a week sometimes more by not throwing things out. I also spend much less time in the kitchen cooking. When I have a day where I am completely exhausted I go to the freezer and choose a meal from my collection and use my precious extra time having a soak in the bath or reading a good book. Multi cooking is definitely the way to go for singles.

Contributed by Emma Price

14 June 2010

Use your fabric scraps to create beautiful accessories

You can use scraps of fabric as you would paper to decoupage just about anything like picture frames, scrapbooks and tissue box covers. Modge Podge, the popular stiffening product that crafters use, is available in craft stores and works well with fabric. This is a nice way to use bits of favourite quilts, shirts, dresses, tablecloths, bunny rugs and so on that are beyond daily use. For example, use pieces of favourite baby clothes to decorate a toy box or step-stool. They will become treasured pieces of furniture and you'll have a memento without having to store the whole garment.

13 June 2010

The Waterless (Almost) Car Wash

Everyone is conscious of the need to save water, and washing the car can waste a lot of good, clean water. You can obviously save water by only washing the car when it's absolutely necessary but a good rainstorm may be all that's needed to rinse away dirt. If you don't fancy five minutes wiping and swiping in the rain, then you can minimize water waste by using a bucket of soapy water to wash and another to rinse. Be a real Cheapskate and use the water you collect while waiting for the shower to run or from rainwater you have collected.

12 June 2010

Rotating the Mag Stash

I like to read gardening, lifestyle and food magazines and over the past five years I have managed to collect sixty or more. They were just collecting dust in a box in the shed. Instead of continuing to buy more magazines I decided to sort the ones I had into the month the were issued i.e. January through to December. At the beginning of each month I get out a new pile of magazines and put the previous months at the bottom of the pile for next year. So far it is working great. I haven't bought any new magazines in the past six months, all the gardening articles are appropriate for the time of year as are the recipes for using in season vegetables. Where I have two gardening magazines in the same month you would be surprised to notice that many of the articles are very, very similar. I have also included all our old phantom comics into the mix which keeps my hubby and father-in-law happy. Happy reading!  - Contributed by  Katherine, Allens Rivulet, 5th February 2009

11 June 2010

Quality Shopping

When considering the cost of an item, take into account how long it will last and how many uses you will get out of it. For example a pair of runners for $60 might last twelve months while another cheaper pair at $35 will only last nine months. At first glance it would seem that the more expensive shoe is better value because it lasts longer. In reality, the cheaper show is better value.

Here's how to work it out: calculate the cost per month i.e. Divide $60 by 12 = 12 $5 per month, while $35 divided by 9 months = $4 per month. The cheaper shoe is better value per wear.

10 June 2010

What to do with soap scraps

No doubt your household, as mine, generates masses of tiny, fiddly scraps of soap. The kids won't use them because they are too small. You can melt them down and make liquid handwash with them or you can use them for cleaning as Cheapskater Marybeth does.

When soap becomes too small to use, wrap it in netting (orange or onion bags are great for this) and tie top with string. Useful for scrubbing sinks, tubs etc as the netting is slightly abrasive yet can be used on most surfaces as it is gentle and non-scratch.

Contributed by Marybeth

08 June 2010

The Five Minute Emergency Cake

When you have unexpected guests pop in, it's nice to be able to serve them a freshly baked, homemade cake.

2 cups SR flour
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup butter

Melt butter. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place a microwavable glass in the centre of a microwavable pie dish and pour mixture around the glass into the dish. Cook on high for five minutes and serve immediately at the table for your guests with jam or lemon butter on the top. This cake takes five minutes to prepare, five minutes to cook and you can sit with your guests to serve it up hot and fresh. Only costs $2 to make and serves six guests! Saves time, effort and money. Saves one hour in the oven and lets you enjoy the company of your friends at home with cake and coffee cheaply! One jar of lemon butter or any jam kept in the cupboard will help top the cake made from these staples! Guests will be love it!  

Contributed by Olivia, Coomera

07 June 2010

Online Auctions Yield Cross-stitch Bargains

Check the online auction sites - do a search for 'DMC' in the crafts category, and you'll find some sellers who'll let you choose the colours you want, and you'll get them for around 50 to 65 cents a skein. Or, shop around at online needlework shops in the USA - even with the postage to get the threads to Australia, it's cheaper to import them than to buy them from Australian shops (sad but true). For instance,http://ehandcrafts.com sells them for US$0.55 each, and this shop charges very reasonable rates for postage, often having a flat rate for international orders of just $2.25USD.

Contributed by Linda, Nairne

06 June 2010

Know your zone

You'll have a much healthier and happier garden if you choose plants that are appropriate to your zone.  Your success rate will improve dramatically too. You can find which planting zone you are in on a Heat Zone Map. You'll find an excellent map, with explanation  here: http://www.diggers.com.au/climate.shtml#heat.  Find your region on the map and make a note of the zone. Then, when you are shopping for seeds or seedlings, check the tag to make sure they are going to be suitable for your zone. Knowing your zone will save you heartbreak over lost plants and money, time and energy trying to grow the wrong plants for your area.

05 June 2010

Discounted Fun

Whether your are seeing a movie, going to a museum or just playing mini golf, check to see if there are any discounts available. Discounted admission is often available for seniors, students and children, with many places offering discounts for families at the gate so take advantage if you qualify. Check the back of your supermarket dockets, your local rag and of course the website of any place you plan on visiting for discount coupons. If you have an Entertainment Book, check the coupons in the back to make sure you are not missing a discount opportunity. Your automobile club membership (RACV, NRMA, RAC et) may offer you the opportunity for discounted admission to theme parks etc. Make sure you have the necessary identification with you at the gate (membership card, coupon etc).

04 June 2010

Never pay retail

Never pay full price in any store for clothing. Fashion has a very fast turn-around and that shirt you saw last week is sure to be on sale in the very near future. Keep an eye on the sales catalogues and store websites to save on your fashion purchases. Imagine how good you'll feel when you save 30% (or more) on the cost of that shirt!  Alternatively, visit the outlets for your favourite brands and buy at better than retail all year round.

03 June 2010

Become a DIY expert

Next time something breaks around your home, try fixing it yourself.  Most hardware shops run free DIY classes these days, so book in and learn some practical new skills, and save yourself some money into the bargain.  If you need detailed instructions pay a visit to your local library and borrow a book on the subject or get online and search the Internet.  If you start with the smaller jobs, like fixing a leaking tap or mending a blown fuse you'll gain the knowledge and the confidence to tackle those bigger jobs like painting, tiling, mending broken windows etc. You'll be maintaining your home without the cost of a tradesman and saving a lot of money.

02 June 2010

Just $1 A Day

Think of this: if you were to just put aside one dollar a day you would have $365 at the end of the year to put into savings. Just two dollars a day would double that. Think about it carefully. Some of us spend two dollars a day just buying coffee at the coffee shop when we could maybe cut back and find another more economical way to get our coffee, such as have our coffee fix in the morning right before leaving for work. We could start at the one dollar a day and over time increase it to $5 a day or $150 a month. $150 a month is $1,800 a year in savings. It adds up very fast.

01 June 2010

Drink Water

There isn't a better thirst quencher or cheaper drink than plain water. Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your body and your purse. But don't be tempted to buy bottled water! We have one of the freshest, cleanest water supplies in the world at the twist of a tap. Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water every day for a year costs less than $1! You can't get even one bottle of water for $1.