Saturday, 16 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 16th February 2019

My frugal list is a little shorter this week.  I'm not sure what filled my days other than work and cleaning my home.  I did manage to rest a little and enjoyed a few Netflix shows.  I'm one of those people who loves any show that features de cluttering,  organisation,  hoarding and cleaning.  I'm always inspired to make my home a little cleaner or more organised.

Here's what else I managed to do when Netflix was turned off -

*  Refilled the dishwashing liquid pumps and diluted it by 30%.

*  Bought more replacement mop heads online with a 20% discount and free shipping.  I've been using the Vileda UltraMax mop and bucket system for 5 years in my home and a few more years at a couple of cleaning jobs.  It has a big microfibre head on it that gets the mopping done very quickly. It also came with a dry mop head which is fabulous to whiz around on the bamboo floors and picks up any dirty,  dust and hairs.  The mop heads last a couple of years with weekly mopping.

*  Made a big batch of mini quiches for Megan's baby shower.  They have been frozen ahead of time.  The eggs came from our chickens, and the tomatoes and silverbeet from our garden.  Not quite a free snack but very cheap indeed.

*  Made a very big lasagne using frozen tomatoes ( from last Summer ).  Darren,  Jessica and I ate a portion for dinner that night and the other 9  single serves went into the freezer.  Lasagne is one of the most labour intensive meals I make,  so when I make it,  it is rationed out over a few months.

*  Darren and I decided against going out for a Valentine's Day dinner.  I'm not a fan of noisy,  crowded restaurants and preferred to spend time with Darren at home.  I did buy a few treats from the supermarket and served up a couple of grazing platters for our dinner.  It was so scrumptious and we were very full.  The leftovers became out lunch yesterday when we were out cleaning.  We probably saved $80 by eating at home.

*  Saved tissue paper that was wrapped around a few items Jessica gave me.  I've got quite a stockpile of tissue paper and I'm making a real effort to reuse it when giving gifts.  I no longer buy gift bags,  wrapping paper or tissue paper by reusing what comes into our home.

*  Decluttered almost 70 items from my kitchen.  I had a bagful for Megan to have and the rest was going to Savers.  Megan pretty much loved everything I was getting rid of and I was left with two plates to take to Savers at some point in the future.  Not a saving for me but a saving for Megan..

*  Gave Jessica a haircut.

*  Bought a couple of  small trays of lamb chops on clearance at Coles.  They were 50% off and the per kilo price came down to $7 kg.  We love lamb chops but their extremely high price has prevented us from having them for almost a year.

*  Ate leftovers from the freezer a couple of nights.  Great for easy dinners when our days have been busy and avoided the takeaway urge.

*  Jessica picked up some discounted Australia Day goodies for 20 cents each.  Darren was thrilled.  He loves anything Aussie.

Jessica's bargains

Valentine's Day savoury platter

Valentine's Day dessert platter

Lasagne for the freezer

For the baby shower

How did you save money this week ?
Do you have a favourite Netflix show ?

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - The Gift Giving Budget

As part of my  budget revising  time in January each year,  I like to take a look at the gift giving budget.  For me,  January is a quieter time of the year with fewer cleaning jobs to go to,  weather restricting some outings / housework and fewer social commitments.

My gift giving list is written into an exercise book ( one of those 5 cent ones ).  On one page I write the birthdays and occasions in order as they happen throughout the year.  For example,  Megan's birthday is in January so her name is always first on the list.  Then Valentines Day in February,  my Dad's birthday in March and so on.

On the opposite page in the exercise book I write a list of all the people I give Christmas presents to.  This list  includes Kris Kringle gifts for Darren's work,  my card making group and extended family gatherings.  The Kris Kringle names might not be known until very late in the year but I like to have a spot to fill in when the time comes.

After the lists are written out,  I draw up a budget for each person and occasion on a separate page.  For example,  on Valentines Day Darren and I only spend $5 each.  This might not seem like much but it's enough to buy a little chocolate treat.  I make cards so we know to grab one from the box.  Easter we spend $20 in total.  For extended family members we might spend $5 - $10 each for birthdays and Christmas.

Once the budget is written out,  I try to reduce it here and there.  Some people we don't see any more so a gift is not really needed.  Sometimes the people on the list say they don't really need ' things ' to fill their house.  If that's the case,  I reduce their budget and make a jar of biscuits,  or give a jar of jam.  Both presents cost next to nothing yet the receiver absolutely loves them.

Once the budget is written out,  I add it all up,  then divide it by 12 to give me the monthly amount I need to put aside.  I shop all year round so I need the money all year round.  Not just in December.

Getting back to the names on the lists,  beside each name on both pages,  I write in any presents I might already have on hand.  These can include fantastic op shop finds ( new or near new items ),  regifted presents ( when appropriate ) and other goodies I've bought during sales all year round.

Sometimes I look at the list and shop from home to fill in the spaces.  For example Aunt Bertha ( not real ) would love some new hanging tea towels.  So I write it in because I can make it or I already have them made up.

Remember,  budgets are not set in stone.  They should be flexible to suit any occasion that arises.

Here's a quick guide for the gift budget -

*  Write a list of names and occasions.

*  Write a budget for each person / occasion.

*  Check your present cupboard for gifts already purchased.

*  Make or bake what you can.

*  Reduce the names on the list if possible.

*  Reduce the amount for each person where possible.

*  Regift or op shop if suitable to reduce the budget. 

Saturday, 9 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th February 2019

Sometimes just getting through each day can be a challenge.  We've had extremely hot weather in Melbourne this week.  Cooking has not been a priority but we are grateful to have a bbq that is connected to natural gas ( no gas bottle ).  Darren has been in heaven using HIS bbq to cook our meat for dinner many times over the last couple of weeks.

We've had the curtains closed most days and the cooling on when needed.  Cold drinks of water with lots of ice blocks have helped us stay hydrated and a little cooler.  Housework was done before we went to work or well after tea time to avoid working up a sweat.  I'm counting down the weeks and days until the weather changes and we see some Autumn weather.

Here's what we managed to get done to save money -

*  Bought four trays of beef mince on sale at Tasman Meats for $5.99 kg.  This is the cheapest mince has been in quite a while.  Each tray was portioned into 250 g meal sizes and frozen.

*  Dropped into Coles after church on Sunday just as the meat manager had finished marking down lots of meat.  We came away with trays of beef skewers at 50% off,  pork chops at 505 off ( for Darren ) and Oyster blade steak at 40% off ( for slow cooker stews ).  Usually the manager does the markdowns first thing in the morning but was running late that day.  We were very grateful to be there at the right time.

*  Donated a few bags of clothes and household bits and pieces to Savers and received a couple of discount stamps for future shopping.

*  Used lots of recycled bread bags as bin liners in the bathrooms and kitchen.

*  Fed the compost bin and worm farm with kitchen scraps.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Hung the washing outside on the line or clotheshorse.  There was one humid day so a few items went into the dryer to prevent them from smelling.  This happens when dark clothes take too long to dry in humid weather.

*  Saved drink bottle water and rinse water into a big icecream container in the kitchen sink.  This was poured onto the fruit trees.  I also saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water to reuse.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Gratefully received a plastic tub of material from an anonymous giver.  Thankyou so much for your kindness.

*  Bought a new skirt from Best And Less on their clearance racks for $5.  I've noticed some department stores starting to clear out their Summer stock.  A great time to get a bargain.

*  Used our electric pedestal fans on some days when it was either humid or not quite hot enough to put the cooling on.  Electric fans cost just a few cents an hour to run.  This is quite thrifty compared to air conditioning and a little cheaper than our evap cooling.

*  Darren and I took my parents up to Ballarat for a day trip last Saturday to give Dad's car a good run ( he's still not driving ).  We took a thermos for cuppas,  morning tea and lunch to save some money.  We did buy afternoon tea at Beechworth Bakery as a treat before heading home

From the garden

$5 bargain skirt

New lounge suite ( plus another chair not in pic ).
Lining the bin with bread bags

How did you save time,  money and energy this week ?

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear.- The Family Budget

I love the start of a new year.  January is my time to plan the year ahead,  to rewrite the family budget and to start allocating gifts for upcoming birthdays.

Having these systems in place gives me great peace of mind and a sense of purpose for our family  I'm more inclined to view the year ahead with great anticipation knowing i have a plan and goals to work towards.

A great place to starting planning is to look at the family budget.  Here are some questions I ask myself when revising a budget -

*  Did last year's budget work for us ?

*  Are we spending too much money in certain areas ?

*  Should we be putting more or less  money into certain areas ?

*  Are we earning enough money to cover our household running costs ?

*  Can we be more thrifty ?  If so,  how  ?

*  What is our savings goal this year ?  *  How will we achieve this ?

*  Can we eliminate certain spending categories ?

*  If our income was reduced dramatically and unexpectedly,  would we be able to pay all our bills and eat ?

A budget should not be set in stone due to circumstances changing on a regular basis. Bills go up,  children eat more as they grow or incomes can increase / decrease.  So too should the family budget adapt to the changes that life brings.

When writing out the family budget for a new year,  make sure you use the previous year's budget as a starting place.  Get out last year's utility bills and add them up for each category.  Add an extra 10% for any increases the companies like to add at the start of the year.  When you have a total amount,  divide it by 12 for a monthly amount,  divide by 26 for a fortnightly amount or divide by 52 for a weekly amount.  This should be direct debited into a bank account set aside for bills.

Keep in mind,  a budget is there to help you achieve goals and to live a great life.  

How do you revise your family budget ?

Do you revise it at the start of the year or another time ?

Saturday, 2 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 2nd February 2019

The hot weather continues in Melbourne but thankfully we've had a couple of milder days so we can get things done around the home.  Our new lounge suite arrived yesterday.  The outdoor deck is finished ( just a few touch ups to do ) and finally our home is back to it's normal tidy self.

The frugal tasks I've listed below are from the last two weeks and in order as I completed them.

*  Made a double batch of Anzac biscuit dough.  I baked enough biscuits for Megan's birthday afternoon tea and the rest of the dough was frozen for future baking.

*  Made a bottle of Miracle Spray for Megan and Kurt and another two bottles for myself.  I use this fabulous cleaner at most of my cleaning jobs as well as around my home.

*  Made 2 litres of foaming hand wash for Megan and Kurt to refill their hand wash pumps around their home.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Cleaned the washing machine with Epsom salts and hot water.  It's amazing how much gunk comes out of the outlet hose.  I try to do this twice a year to keep the machine in tip top condition.

*  Mended a top with loose threads and a pair of trousers.

*  Jessica and a friend made a double batch of chocolate brownies.  We ate some and the rest went into the freezer for Megan's baby shower.

*  Sold two jars of plum jam and two dozen eggs to a cleaning client.

*  Did extra cleaning work for a client.

*  Gratefully received little tomatoes from my Dad's veggie garden.

*  Gratefully received quite a few department store gift bags from a friend.  I'll be making them over so they can be reused for gift giving.

*  When the hot weather arrived,  I cooked enough baked potatoes,  boiled eggs and pasta salad for a couple of days of eating.  They were served with a salad.

*  Made two litres of foaming hand wash to store under the kitchen sink.  I also filled up all spare refill bottles.  I should have enough made for the next six months.

*  While I was making the foaming hand wash I found an empty vinegar bottle so I  made another two litres of double strength Miracle Spray.

*  Sold a bottle of Miracle Spray to a cleaning client.

*  Made pita chips for snacking.

*  Picked a few tomatoes and a handful of raspberries.  .

Anzac biscuits for morning teas

Tomatoes from the garden

Completed deck.  

Lots of future meals outside.

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Frugal Tasks Delay

Due to the extreme heat Melbourne has experienced this week,  I was unable to get to my laptop to post this week's frugal tasks.  It was just too hot to open a curtain so I could see the keyboard to type away.

Our outdoor deck was finished during the week and Darren  spent many hours getting it all painted.  We also had new furniture delivered  yesterday during the 44 degree heatwave.  It was a toss up between resting in front of the tv and staying cool or getting hot unpacking the new furniture and setting up our bedroom.  We did a bit of both but thankfully a cool change came late in the afternoon to make things easier.

Here's a couple of photos of our week and I'll be back with lots of frugal tasks next Saturday

Almost finished

Darren painting the handrails and slats

New bedroom furniture

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?

Saturday, 19 January 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th January 2019

Melbourne has seen the hot weather return this week.  It was hard to be motivated on these days so I took the time to enjoy some relaxing in front  of the tv.  Most of my cleaning job have started again for the year so I worked three days as well as keeping up with my own housework.

We are having a new deck being built ( as I type ) under our pergola.  We can't wait to have leisurely lunches and dinners out there when it's not too hot or cold.

Here's what else I've been up to  -

*  Packaged up 5 bars of handmade coconut and olive oil soap to give as presents.  All the ribbons etc  I already had on hand.

*  Topped up the cars with petrol while it's cheap at $1.04per litre ( with a discount fuel docket ).

*  Picked raspberries, and beans from the garden.

*  Made lots of gift tags to decorate gifted glass jars for Megan's baby shower next month..  These will be used as party favours

*  Kept the curtains closed on the hot days.  We didn't need to turn the evap cooling on until well after lunch.

*  Donated lots of goodies to Savers op shop and received a few discount stamps.

Made yoghurt from scratch.  I also bought a 1 kilo pot of natural yoghurt to use as a starter for more batches.  I've portioned it into ice cube trays and should get 14 x 1 kilo batches from the one pot.

*  Saved the shower warm up water to use in the washing machine and on the garden.

*  Mended a top and moved some buttons on a pair of pants ( they were too loose )

*  Sold a pair of new school shoes that Megan didn't get to wear.

*  Dried all washing on the clothesline or clothes horses.

*  Wrapped a few presents using saved plastic from bunches of flowers ( wiped down of course ).

Handmade wrapped soaps.

Gift tags for baby shower

Using recycled plastic wrap

 How did you save money is week ?

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Frugal Tasks Since Christmas

I'm back and it's a brand new year of excitement.  I've had a lovely time at home with Darren pottering around.  I've been decluttering,  sorting,  making,  gardening,  sorting out presents for this year,  reworking the present budget as well as setting up the household budget for 2019.

I'm feeling on top of the world with all this organisation and believe I can travel through 2019 with confidence that I've put the right systems in place.

Here's what else I've been up to since I last blogged -

*  Used lots of Flybuys dollars to purchase Christmas grocery treats and New Years Day BBQ food.

*  Bought a pair of sandals during the post Christmas sales for 50% off.

*  Gratefully received some blood plums from my Dad's neighbour.

*  Picked 19 apricots form our tree and cooked them up to have as a dessert with homemade yoghurt.  This has been our best year for apricots since we planted the tree in 2014.

*  Made jam with plums in the freezer.  I reused the gift tags that one customer returned to me.  Some of the jars of jam will be sold or given as presents.

*  Picked enough strawberries to make smoothies as well as general eating.

*  Made up two bottles of diluted Dynamo laundry liquid.  The ratio is one part liquid to 4 or 5 parts water.

*  Made lots of gift tags from recycled Christmas cards.  I now have a shoe box especially for Christmas tags and one for general present giving.  I'm feeling quite organised this year.

*  Picked lots of beans,  silverbeet,  raspberries,  lettuce and a few cucumbers from the garden for our meals.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I reused the plastic bread bags and tags.

*  Gave Megan a haircut.  She doesn't like anyone cutting her hair but me.

*  Made 1 kilo of yoghurt using saved yoghurt as a starter from the freezer.

*  Made a batch of olive and coconut oil soap.  Some will be for our use and the rest will be given as presents or sold to a few friends.

*  Bought a new bedroom suite during the Boxing Day sales and saved 30% off the regular price.

*  Repaired and replaced the rope on Princess's  scratching post.

*  Sewed up sets of face washers and burb towels for Megan's baby shower using what I had on hand.

Apricots from our tree

Post Christmas bargain wrapping paper

Plum jam making

Fruit from our garden.

Our garden bounty

Christmas lunch of slow cooker roast beef with veg.  Yummy.

How have you saved time and money since Christmas ?
Have you started planning and organising for the year ahead ?

Saturday, 22 December 2018

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 22nd December 2018

This week has been a week of crafting,  craft sales,  gardening  present sorting,  lots of cleaning work and a little bit of shopping.  No two weeks are ever the same and I'm very grateful for variety in my life.  Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Sold 2 pamper packs to a friend.  He'll be using them for Kris Kringle gifts.

*  Sold  1 dozen eggs.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.  I hadn't quite run out of bread from my last bake up but wanted to avoid baking around Christmas Day.

*  Made a big batch of pita chips from pita bread.

*  Picked  900 grams of beans and a few handfuls of raspberries from the garden.

*  Used my present cupboard to supply a last minute birthday present and wedding present.  I also recycled a department store gift bag to use for the birthday present.

*  Darren fed the compost bin and worm farm every couple of days with kitchen scraps.

*  Sold 6 hanging tea towels to friends.

*  Completed an extra day of bonus cleaning work and an hour of ironing for a client.

*  Made the most of the Spotlight sale and purchased Christmas fabric at 60% off and really sharp kitchen knives at 30% off.  The knives were $2 each then reduced to $1.40.

*  Decorated lots of department store gift bags at a card making day last Saturday.

*  Gratefully received a tub of margarine from a friend.

*  Made lots of Christmas gift tags from card making scraps.  These will be used next year.

*  Froze lots of singles serves of leftover food.

Our year in review

In Tasmania Jan 2018

Summer garden finds

Soap making

Brisbane holiday August 21018

From the garden

Family photo at Jessica's 21st May 2018

Pretty op shop find

New crafts to make and sell

Birthday cake Jessica made for me  Oct 2018

Afternoon tea in style

Trying to pack for a holiday with Princess helping

This will be my last post for 2018.  Thankyou to all those who read,  comment or lurk around the edges.   Your input,  friendship,  comments and support have helped me get through a very challenging year.

We've  experienced family illnesses,  celebrations ( and cancellations ),   family coming and going from our home,  increases and decreases of work,  fabulous short holidays,  an 18th and 21st birthday celebration and a grandbaby announcement for 2019.

It's been a rollercoaster ride but through it all Darren and I praise God for looking after us and keeping us strong.

I'll be taking a short blogging break to enjoy my family,  to enjoy some much needed rest ( and tv watching ) and to do some crafting ready for 2019's blog shop and present giving.

May you have a blessed and joyous Christmas with those who are close to you.   I'll be back early January 2019  xoxo

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

7 Quick Kris Kringle Gifts

Has a family member come home with a Kris Kringle request out of the blue ?  Gotta love a surprise just before Christmas don't you ?  Here are a few simple yet wonderful gifts to give without looking like it's a last minute gift -

*  A jar of mixed nuts in their shells.  We all have a clean Moccona coffee jar lurking in a cupboard.   Dig it out,  fill and decorated with a printed sticker.  Maybe use one of those black chalkboard stickers as a label.

*  Fill a jar with homemade biscuits.  Tie a ribbon on with a handmade gift tag.If the present is for a male,  tie a tartan ribbon for a more masculine look   This sort of gift would retail for about $20 in the stores.

*  Wrap a box of Dove soap with pretty wrapping / craft paper and tie with a luxurious ribbon.  If you have a glittery brooch or hairpin,  attach to the ribbon or thread it on.

*  Here's my go to Kris Kringle present - A gift bag with a handmade soap,  a jar of homemade jam and a cute note pad or decorated face washer.

*  Re gift an unwanted present.  I know this is a delicate subject but sometimes we can't use what is given to us.  If it would be more suitable as a Kris Kringle gift ,  it's better to re gift than to not use it at all.

*  Looking for a men's present ?  My go to present is a gift bag with Lynx shower gel and Lynx deodorant.  I always have these on hand in the present cupboard and only ever buy on a half price sale.

*  A block of chocolate is always a winner.  Team it up with a jar of homemade hot chocolate drink mix,  add a cute spoon and perhaps a novelty mug.    

Homemade jam nicely decorated

Handmade soaps

A box of Dove Soap Annabel ( The Bluebirds Are Nesting blog ) sent me a few years ago

Soaps my girls wrapped in tissue paper and decorated.

What are your easy Kris Kringle present ideas ?