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Your Cheapskates Club Newsletter 38:17
In this Newsletter
1. Cath's Corner
2. In the Tip Store - We Moved the Kitchen Outdoors; Grow Your Own to Save Costs; Useful Teacher Gifts
3. Share Your Tips
4. On the Menu - Herbed Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
5. The $300 a Month Food Challenge - 5 Simple Ways We Save on Groceries
6. Cheapskates Buzz - Cheapskaters are talking in the Forum and on Cath's blog
7. Member's Featured Blog - Getting Organised
8. Last Week's Question - Do Laundry Eggs really work?
9. This Week's Question - Advice needed to (tactfully) teach my MIL how to shop like a Cheapskate
10. Ask Cath
11. Join the Cheapskates Club
12. Frequently Asked Questions
13. Contact Details
1. Cath's Corner
I hope you're all enjoying a frugal week, living the Cheapskates way.
After the hectic schedule of last week I was looking forward to a quiet weekend and a peaceful few days in the office. It didn’t work out that way. I have a relative by the name of Murphy, who just happened to cause havoc. Murphy must be a relative because as the saying goes “you can choose your friends, your relatives you’re stuck with” and if Murphy were a friend he would be an absent friend!
With Murphy visiting our spending has been a little more than we had planned so I think it’s time for a No Spend Week. Can you live without spending for a week? We haven’t had a No Spend challenge for a while and this is only a week, seven short days.
The rules are simple: no spending unless it is essential, already planned or already budgeted for. So you can pay your regular bills and buy your groceries (as long as you stick to the list), as long as it's planned and you have the cash to pay for it.
Because this No Spend challenge is going to be a little different. Cash only. No credit cards, no debit cards, just old fashioned cash.
If you are up for the challenge, hop on over to the blog and sign up.
Our week, so far, has been very frugal. I even managed to find the only petrol station in the area that still had cheap fuel this morning, saving 30 cents a litre! That's $15 I didn't spend right there, just one of the ways we saved money this week, and that really made me smile.
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2. From The Tip Store
We Moved the Kitchen Outdoors
Approximate $ Savings: $200+
When we first moved into our rental property we could not find our cooking pots and such so we used the BBQ to cook on for a short time. Well we got use to cooking outside, even boiling the kettle that way. We have a BBQ with a hood and an element so you can cook anything on it, even roasts. Now we do not even use the toaster to make toast. You can even steam the vegetables out there. Our food actually tastes a lot better cooked on the BBQ. When we received our first electricity bill we could not believe the difference in the price. We were receiving bills for $300+ and our first bill was $60 just by not using the stove, oven or kettle inside. You also spend a lot more time outside and with each other because while hubby was cooking I always went outside to keep him company. Less time in front of the TV or computer (so saving power there as well). We could not believe the difference. Just by using the BBQ, turning all switches of at the wall (not on standby), buying a front loader washing machine instead of upright and paying the power bill each fortnight instead of just waiting for the bill to arrive we no longer have a heart attack each month.
Contributed by Patti Telfer
Grow Your Own to Save Costs
There is a brilliant way to grow your own vegetables called "Square Foot Gardening". Anyone can go onto the Internet and see how it is done. Watch the videos etc. I advertised in the local paper for old cement laundry tubs which I have set up to be waist height to garden in them. I mixed up the growing mix that Mel Bartholomew advises (he is the author of the book on Square Foot Gardening). I found I could buy the book online and pay the exchange on the dollar plus freight cheaper than buying it here in Australia. Plus the copies sold here are the out of date ones. He has released an updated version. There are also a lot of videos on YouTube about vertical growing and growing in containers if you have limited space. I found the laundry tubs the best as no grass could come up through the plughole seeing it was up off the ground. I had a cage built over the top made out of old galvanised pipes and I bought a roll of chicken wire. I have seen an idea in the Gardening Australia Ideas DVD where the woman makes a covered thing over her garden out of reticulation pipes and shade cloth but there would be nothing stopping you from using the chicken wire instead of the shade cloth to let in more sunlight. I had so much trouble with possums, wallabies and birds before I had the cage over the top. There is a good website to look at re growing tomatoes. www.bestjuicytomatoes.com You must start off with the good mixture if growing in containers to sustain the root system.
Contributed by Kathy Mooney
Useful Teacher Gifts
Instead of getting to Christmas time and the kids wanting presents to give the teacher's during the year buy the pen's the different charities have and use these as presents, no more thinking what to buy and the teacher has a useful gift to use. Could be used as token gifts for neighbours, friends etc.
Contributed by Colleen Bellman
There are currently more than 12,000 great tips in the Tip Store
3. Submit Your Tip
The Cheapskate's Club website is over 3,000 pages of money saving hints, tips and ideas. Let's get together and make the Cheapskates Club Australia's largest online hint, tip and idea library. Share your favourite money saving, time saving or energy saving hint and be in the running to win a one-year membership to The Cheapskate Club. We publish a Winning Tip each Thursday, so enter your great money, time or energy saving idea now.
Share your favourite hint or tip that saves money, time and energy and be in the running to win a one-year subscription to The Cheapskate Journal.
Remember, you have to be in it to win it!
Submit your tip
4. On the Menu
Herbed Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
1 cup long grain rice
1 onion, grated or finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg beaten
oil for frying
1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
Finely grated rind & juice of 1 lemon
Place meat, rice, onion, carrot, herbs and egg in bowl and mix together. Shape mixture into balls. Heat oil in large pan and fry meatballs until browned turning frequently. Drain well on kitchen towel. Place meatballs in a casserole dish. Mix soup with water, lemon rind and juice. Pour over meatballs. Bake without a lid in mod. oven (350F) for 45minutes.
This week we will be eating:
Sunday: Roast Beef
Monday: Herbed meatballs in tomato sauce
Tuesday: Mushroom & Parmesan Risotto
Wednesday: Chicken & mushroom pie, steamed vegetables
Thursday: MOO Pizza
Saturday: Tomato Vegetable Soup, toasted crumpets
In the fruit bowl: bananas, strawberries
In the cake tin: Chocolate coconut slice, muesli bars, banana muffins
There are over 1,500 other great money saving meal ideas in the Recipe File.
5. The $300 a Month Food Challenge
5 Simple Ways We Save on Groceries
Today, being the first Friday of the month, is my OAMS day (once a month shopping). I've already done the groceries, I didn't have a lot to buy as you can see from the picture above. I included a few stockpile items this month too, in preparation for the Christmas/New Year craziness.
Since Disaster Struck I've watched our grocery spending like a hawk. We have a very strict grocery budget and I try very hard to not go over it. I need to tell you what is included in our grocery budget, just so you know what's covered by my $320 a month.
For my family, groceries include:
3. Whatever fruits and vegetables we don't grow or get via bartering
4. Cleaning products
5. Basic toiletries and hygiene products.
I shop for my family of five adults. Yes, our kids are all grown up but still living (and eating!) at home. I buy meat once every three months, unless there is an extra amazing special beforehand, so to be sure I have the "meat money" I put $60 a month aside to use. This is usually more than enough (thanks to Australian Butcher and Farmer Joe's great prices and some good specials at our local butcher).
Today I spent $215 at Aldi. For the first time in ages I was able to get everything on the list, including as I mentioned earlier, some stockpile items. The meat money has been put aside and I have $45 left to buy milk (the only grocery item we will actually need) for the next four weeks.
So how do I keep the grocery bill low?
1. Menu planning
I typically plan our monthly menu a few days before shopping day. I shop for a month so I meal plan for a month. Cheapskates Club members can see what we are eating in the Member's Centre. By doing this, I buy what exactly what we need for the month. Meal planning is a great way to stop "random" shopping, which really causes chaos with a grocery budget. Meal planning also stops the takeaway temptation. Knowing you have something planned for dinner is half the struggle of getting tea on the table. I'm not saying we don't ever have takeaway or eat out but the temptation to do so isn't there if we know we have something delicious already planned.
2. Planning my shopping trips
I shop with a list, a very comprehensive list. It has the item, size, quantity and the last price I paid on it. I write my shopping list in order of stores and I try to write each stores list according to the layout. My shopping list keeps me focussed on the task at hand: getting the groceries. I do one big shop on the first Friday of each month, then buy milk and cream and any fruit and veg top-ups once a week. That's it. I stay away from supermarkets until shopping day.
3. Shop the sales
When I'm writing my shopping list, I always do it with the Coles, Woolworths and Aldi websites open. This is probably the biggest way we save on groceries; having the online catalogues open lets me compare prices between the supermarkets quickly and easily. This means I can jot items down under the supermarket they are cheapest.
4. Build a stockpile
I practice the buy-ahead principle as much as possible, in order to create a stockpile and build up our pantry with items we will use later. I aim to have a twelve week supply of our basic grocery items at all times. I don't have stuff stashed everywhere and I don't stockpile things we rarely use. I do use the grocery slush fund to stockpile things we use a lot of when they are on a super great sale, especially if they are the pricier items like shampoo, conditioner, dried fruit, meat and so on. When I'm creating our meal plan I shop the pantry, fridge and freezer and use the groceries we have on hand. This way I always pay the lowest possible price for groceries.
5. Ditch brand loyalties
I am not a brand snob. Flour is flour, sugar is sugar. Most basic grocery items available in Australia are excellent quality regardless of the price. I try to buy Australian owned, then Australian made when they fit within my grocery budget. There are times I'll have something on my shopping list that isn't on sale. When that happens I buy the best value brand I can find. If the cheapest brand is the store brand, then that's what we buy.
I could write a lot more about how I keep the grocery bill low, but for today these five points give you the general idea. Everyone is different, every family's needs and wants are different and that is fine. You may live hours from supermarkets or you may be catering to special dietary needs. Your grocery budget doesn't have to be the same as anyone else's, you determine what meets your needs; but, if you're struggling with cutting the cost of groceries, implement these five simple steps.
I guarantee you will save money and if nothing else, you'll have your grocery spending under control. You can work on getting it as low as you want it to be then.
The $300 a Month Food Challenge
The Post that Started it All
6. Cheapskates Buzz
Most popular forum posts this week
Making Meals Cheaper
Gourmet Freezer Sandwiches
Most popular blog posts this week
Used v New
How to Afford Your Favourite Gourmet Coffee
Filing Spare Buttons Keeps the Button Box Tidy
7. Members Featured Blog
Platinum Cheapskates Club members have their very own Cheapskating blogs, and they are wonderful and inspirational and encouraging and even funny. This week's featured blog is written by stewpod.
I have started Spring Cleaning a month early!
I'm a very clean person, I dust the house at least twice a week, and vacuum every second day. My Husband thinks I have a bit of OCD, but I don't care as I like things clean and tidy!
I don't like to have heaps of "things", because I think it makes a house look cluttered, and to me they are just dust collectors.
Anyway, we have quite a small house. The girls have their own rooms, and we have our room. Then the small bathroom, toilet, laundry, kitchen/dining which is adjoined to our lounge. I decided to re-do every cupboard in the house, because as DD1 is growing we're losing more space, so I decided to maximised every bit of space I can, and throw out ANYTHING we don't use. I have sold quite a few appliances that just never get used. We had a crazy amount of cookbooks, which were stored in DD2's wardrobe! I went through all of them; we kept a small amount which are now stored in the kitchen on a shelf that used to hold appliances I never used, and all the Women's Weekly ones are sitting in the laundry. I'm trying to sell them, if they don't sell it's off to the op shop. I went through all the kitchen cupboards and got rid of containers we don't use, or that are missing lids. I have donated a heap of engagement presents we got six years ago and never opened! I am yet to sort the cutlery drawer. I donated tones of glasses (wine, martini, shot) that we have, but we don't actually drink, so we never use them lol.
I went through my linen closet, I had a crazy amount of face washers, most were new, but I had so many I never used them. So I was tough; I kept 4 face washers for the girls, two for us. I got rid of sheets we never use, and blankets too, plus all our odd towels. Now the laundry cupboard is so organised, and I can fit my indexes that I do for contract work in there too. I bought some clothes dryers that hang on the back of doors for the laundry, just to add to my clothes drying capacity (my last electricity bill was insane) without taking up space. I got a new towel rack for the girls' towels, and one that hangs on the back of the door for my hair towel. I cleared out our bathroom cupboard, and got some storage containers, and a little set of plastic drawers. DH and I have a container each, his has his shavers, deodorant and aftershave in them. Mine has deodorant, brushes, moisturiser and hair stuff. Then in the little drawers we have our nail clippers (we always lose them), tweezers, dental floss and my make-up etc. On the bottom shelf there are two containers, one with my bulk supplies of hand wash, deodorant (thanks Costco), the other has bulk teeth stuff in it. I couldn't believe how much rubbish was in the bathroom cupboard, and I forgot I had a heap of deodorant! I cleaned under the kitchen sink, with containers there now to.
I still have heaps to go! But I'm getting there!
Login to read more Cheapskates Club Member blogs
9. Last Week's Question
Last week's question was from Rachel who wrote
"Hello, I recently read about eco-eggs which are basically laundry detergent replacements. Here's what they claim: 'The award winning Laundry Egg is a complete replacement for washing detergent. Just pop it in the drum of your washing machine – no powder, liquid, tablets or gels required. The two types of mineral pellets inside the egg get to work, producing powerful – but natural – cleaning foam which powers through the fibres lifting off the dirt and grime.'
Has anyone used them? Do they work?"
I’m not familiar with the “egg” type of laundry/washing replacement, but many years ago, I tried a “Donut” type of laundry replacement. The “donut” was a round plastic ring with a hole in the middle, which you placed in the machine with your dirty laundry to wash. The dirt was supposed to be attracted to the donut and make your clothes clean. I had a twin tub washing machine at the time, not an automatic. The donut actually put small dents on the inside of washing machine bowl. It never really cleaned the clothes very well; whites were going greyer with every wash. I recommend you avoid the “donut” type and unless you get feedback from someone who has had fantastic results from the “egg” type, steer clear of that too.
Heather Power answered
Yes the Eco egg is fantastic and worth every penny. Just remember to pull it out of your machine after every wash to dry out as if it stays wet the beads inside don't last too long.
Kate R answered
I bought them and used them for a while. I don't have particularly dirty laundry, and they were fine, but I couldn't tell you if there was a difference with using them or using nothing at all. My laundry was clean enough....I didn't find the scent really lasted though. You can get soap nuts which are natural, and same idea....same outcome (check eBay).
Weiling Johnson answered (via Facebook)
They're ok on normal clothes, but for the kids clothes from childcare, doesn't get the heavy dirt marks off. Also, clothes don't smell fresh, like they do with detergent, after you wash with the eggs.
10. This Week's Question
"My husband and I have been married for five months, and are currently living with his parents. This is their wedding gift to us, so we can save as much as possible as a deposit on a home of our own. They offered us rent and utility free living for two years, which we are grateful for. The problem is grocery money (of all things!). Because of our work schedules, my MIL also does the grocery shopping and cooking (she's a great cook, I'm learning heaps) and we split the bill 50-50. Here's the rub: she does all the grocery shopping Coles and refuses to go anywhere else. She doesn't look for markdowns or specials, and flatly refuses to even consider generic brands. Last month our share of the grocery bill was $1,365 - even living rent free, we can't afford that! How can I , at 25 years old and a newlywed, tactfully introduce the idea of smart and frugal, budget shopping without any offense to my mother-in-law, who has been a housewife for 30+ years and has never needed to budget?"
Do you have the answer?
If you can help Dianne, let us know. We'll enter your answer into our Tip of the Week competition, with a one-year membership to the Cheapskates Club as the prize too.
Send your answer
11. Ask Cath
We have lots of resources to help you as you live the Cheapskates way but if you didn't find the answer to your question in our extensive archives please just drop me a note with your question.
I read and answer all questions, either in an email to you, in my weekly newsletter, the monthly Journal or by creating blog posts and other resources to help you (and other Cheapskaters).
Ask Your Question
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Joining the Cheapskates Club gives you 24/7 access to the Members Centre with 1000's of money saving tips and articles.
Click here to join the Cheapskates Club today!
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14. Contact Details
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