Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stuff n saving

Today we spent...

Diddly squat ~ $3 for milk and put the petrol off for another day. As only the school run was required, with a detour to the stoopermarket for milk, it seemed pointless travelling into town to the servo today (with the 4c off coupon) when I need to be in town for an appointment tomorrow morning. Of course, if we run out of fuel with tomorrow's school drop off before getting into town, it will just be a case of poor estimation! *chuckles* Nah ~ it's not THAT low - yet! 

Dinner changed (again) but still came in under $2 per head. We had the most delicious sausages - pork and sage. These were marked down to $2.81 for 8 snags, then Husband made mashed potatoes - something he does so so well. Until I met him, the one food type I despised was mashed potato. Blah blergh, hated it with a passion. However he makes it with a little milk, a little butter, a spoonful of sour cream and an egg and it is the creamiest, tastiest potato mash you can ever have - nom nom - ate a plateful! He and I also had some fried onion because onions are always great with sausages!! All up I doubt that made $1.50 per head - even counting the frozen honey yoghurt we had for dessert.

Plus I saved $150 redeeming points on the credit card for a 'cash payment' onto the credit card and went a little insane trying to explain this could not be considered the monthly repayment, even thought it means we have repaid more than we had to pay. I see it as a bonus!

This leads into a few 'rules' we seem to have developed while on Our Mission to reduce debt. If you don't have debt, these are ideal ways to build up savings for a holiday, a new car or a house deposit. Using these 'rules' has allowed us to have spare money to redirect onto the debt and not simply keep on top of the expenses we have each month.
Always got eggs!!
The 'Know What We've Got' Rule.
It's common sense to say if you only spend what you have you will always be on top of your finances, right? We have a sheet on the wall showing exactly what money comes in every fortnight and what amount, at maximum, must be paid out per fortnight - even if the bill is monthly or quarterly. 

Our water bill tends to be around $120-$160 per quarter. Using the higher amount as the 'guesstimate', we put aside $25 per fortnight to pay the account when it comes in. When the account arrives every 12-13 weeks, and is $140, we already have $150-$175 at hand to pay it. The balance then goes onto (say) the VISA or could be savings.

Some people use an envelope system and take the required amount out each pay-day, place it in the envelope until the account becomes due. We transfer the amount to an online banking account to accumulate a higher interest over the month (some online banking accounts, like ING or Rabo, have bonus payments for regular deposits) and either BPay or transfer the funds to a linked account, fee-free, for payment. Online banks usually allow for BPay transactions without fees.

The same goes for what is available in the cupboards ~ food, cleaners, wrapping paper, clothes ~ knowing there is a box with wrapping paper means there is no need to go out and get more for presents, especially at Christmas. If worse comes to worse, plain paper jazzed up with pictures, stickers or ribbon works a treat ~ especially for children who tend to just rip paper off to get inside. Newspaper can work if need be ~ and does for pot plants or flowers. Save the posters from the Sunday Paper of the footy teams, the movie releases, the teen sensation of the day ~ these all save spending $5 on a sheet of glossy wrap which is going to end up in the bin.

The 'One more day' Rule.
Do you really need to wash that blouse you wore for half the day or can it be aired on the line and rehung to wear again? Same with the jeans, trousers or towels used after the morning shower? Every day you get one more use from clothes, linen or even washing your hair is one extra saving of the detergents needed to do that job. Unless you're excessively sweaty or grotty (and smelly) is anyone going to know you didn't wash the trousers you wore to work on Monday when you wear them again on Friday?

If you were starting a new exercise regime, you wouldn't try to run a marathon on the very first day. You probably wouldn't try to run 5kms either. But you could run from one street light to the next, then aim for two street poles the next day, three the following day, then the bus stops - and actually succeed! Not rushing off to the shop to buy items because you are running low or on empty and substituting or pushing the purchase out for 'One More Day' also means your money sits earning interest for one more day - or saves you the interest on a credit card purchase by one less day!

At the change of seasons, put off turning the heating on by one more day and add another jumper over your top, or pop a beanie on your head like you do with a baby. Can you leave the mowing for one more day (well, be assured Husband can, but not always to extend the use of petrol!) or make the bar of chocolate last for one more day?

Can you put off buying vegetable oil for one more day because there is still some in the bottle, its not on special yet and if needed you could use a little butter in the pan? Then when you intend to purchase it (the next day) can you go another day without buying to see if it is on special elsewhere - or next week?? So you've run out of carrots - can you make do with the broccoli? There are no chips in the freezer, how about using the potatoes in the pantry? 

Except on movie returns or bill payments ~ never ever wait one more day! 
A household budget can be tight enough without having to come up with extra for late fees, extra interest or fines. Always return them on time - set a reminder for the day before the return/due date on your phone if this is something you're experiencing!! 
Just a little wine...
The 'Take Off 10%' Rule.
Most people know the saving rule of putting 10% of your income into a separate account to build up a nest egg for unexpected expenses or as part of a savings plan. "They" say you don't miss 10% as a rule. But when you've only got $300 a week available after the mortgage, $30 can be the food shop or petrol for the week. Saving 10% does not just mean cash.
  • Washing Powder: I've never used the required amount of washing powder in the clothes wash ~ usually I put 25%-50% less than recommended and never use conditioners on towels or linen. Towels with conditioner never seem to dry the body as well as those washed without.
  • Dish washer tablets: Cutting a dishwasher tablet in half often does just as good a job as the full tablet ~ epseically if you rinse your dishes before the machine wash. Putting less powder in can give you more than 10% extra washes than advised on the packet.
  • Shampoo: Do you follow the instructions of 'rinse and repeat'? Why?? Unless your hair is filthy and excessively greasy, one wash is all you need. I was told this line was a marketing ploy to have repeat purchases made in a quicker time and honestly, I reckon that is the truth. After a week camping it may be necessary but if you wash your hair daily or weekly, you may just find it an unnecessary step.
  • Sauces, juice, milk: Ask my kids, after the first use (eg, the first glass of juice) I add a glass or two of water to the bottle. Often I do this again as it empties. I also add water to that first glass.  I'll use the cooled water from the kettle and add water into the sauce bottle while close to full and thoroughly shake it in. I'll also add water into the bottle at the end to thin out the dregs for use - although usually not for pouring onto snags. *grins*
  • Glad wrap/Al foil: Generally, I use each piece twice and do the same with zip lock bags, unless used for raw meats to avoid food poisoning! Commercially, this may be a no-no but in my home I have no problem with this. While more often I use a plastic/Tupperware container which can be washed, I have been known to use the bread bags for lunches - washing them out and reusing several times. 
Though we wont be buying much this year anything that we do buy we will haggle to get at least 10% off the marked price. More if possible. Always ask for a discount ~ the worst that can happen is you get a no. The best can be as high as 30% off the marked price without really negotiating. Pick the end of the month for better deals as sales quotas may not have been met by staff.

And before you say this can't be done at the supermarket ~ just look at how I buy the meat, dairy and bakery when I shop. It's rare for me to select the item marked down by 10% ~ I usually aim for 33% or more! Plus looking on the higher or lower shelves for products often gets a bargain. 

'The Vinnie Rat' needed a jumper...

The 'I Don't Care What Other People Think' rule.
With suggestions like using the bread bag to wrap sandwiches, or using the footy poster from the paper to wrap a present, you can probably tell I don't really care what other people think. It's not entirely true, but if you can put an environmental, economical or practical slant on your actions, you will find it easier to adopt this rule and often more accepted by others you choose to tell.

So you've been using samples of shampoo you got from the chemist instead of bottle from the store - who cares? Who knows unless you tell them?? And the kids are wearing their pyjamas all day when it rains all Sunday to avoid a load of washing you cant dry without running the heaters or clothes dryer ~ who cares?

Or you bought the birthday present of Bionicles Lego when it was in the 50% off sale - last year - or the year before. Who cares?? If you care or feel this is embarrassing, cheapskate or just plain scummy ~ friends and family will only know if you tell them. They don't know that the $20 iTunes voucher only cost you $10 because you bought them as part of a special three-pack for $30 - all they see is $20 to spend on iTunes items. 

Or if the wedding present of a new bread maker came from redeeming the points on your credit card.  How about using FlyBuy points to get magazine subscriptions or presents for the family at Christmas time - or better still, buy gifts when they are on sale throughout the year. Husband and I give our siblings a token gift of a Christmas decoration every year. These usually have a value of $7-$15 each, however getting them the week or two after Christmas when these ornaments are $1 or $2 saves us over $100 in Christmas gift spending - I have 6 siblings, separated parents; Husband has 1 sibling and his mum, plus we both have the aunty who isn't related just is part of the family. $12-$20 is much easier to cope with than $120+

Using a two for one voucher might make you feel 'funny' initially, but when you can tell your friends you've been to that flash place for dinner on a recent dinner date with your spouse without the kids, do they know or care? So - why should you, especially if you really enjoyed yourselves! It is pointless trying to keep up with 'the Jones' if it is only going to put you further into debt. What you might not know is that 'the Jones' are so broke they just got a new credit card with a higher limit to cover themselves!!  

Might leave it there or it will become way too long for reading in one sitting. It probably already is. 

As always, any donations into our Savings Jar or the Treasure Chest at the top of the page are gratefully accepted. We hope to get this debt down ourselves, but with a little help - even just $1 - from readers who enjoy our Mission's achievements or benefit from our stories - well, it will be an enormous help and appreciated greatly

Until next time...


  1. Wow Mands, your ideas are incredible. I like the ``We Don't Care What Other People Think'' Rule. We adhere to quite a few of these - we got the discounted iTunes cards for nieces and nephews for Xmas, use our FlyBuys for pressies etc. Really great detailed post.

  2. Thank you Kellie ~ big time!! *cheers*
    It's great knowing when others get some benefit ~ plus some enjoyment. I;m really chuffed to hear you liked the post :D

  3. An idea for selling some of your eggs. See if the teachers at your sons school would be ok with you leaving a couple dozen in their staffroom. Leave a sign and a tin for the money. A mum does this at my sons school, she sells them for $4 a dozen I think.