Saturday, 23 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd March 2019

Due to the week long ' Babe Watch " ( as Darren calls it ),  I was unable to do too many frugal tasks.  I've made extra trips out to Megan and Kurt's place to spend time with them while Megan was in early labour ( for 7 days ).  Hopefully I'll have some good news for you all very very shortly.

Here's my little list of frugal tasks -

*  Made a double batch of ANZAC biscuit dough.  I baked some biscuits for us,  some as part of a present for my Dad's birthday and the rest of the dough went into the freezer for future baking.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Gratefully received a few card making supplies at our card making day last Saturday.  I also bought some at heavily reduced prices.  I'm very careful about what I bough and only buy what I need for can see a use for.

*  Gratefully received a bunch of silverbeet from my Mother In Law.

*  Made a batch of Miracle Spray for Megan and Kurt.  They love using it on just about anything and my heart swells with pride when they tell others about it.

*  Made a triple batch of laundry powder.

*  Gave Megan a haircut.

*  We all filled up our cars with petrol at $1.21 per litre.  The next day it went up to $1.54 per litre.




Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - Emergency Budget

Life can throw unexpected challenges our way.  Being prepared as much as possible is the key to surviving those challenges.

Darren and I have lived with varying work hours our entire married life ( 23 + years ).  We've always had a baseline budget to work with and any extra hours has always been a bonus.

At the start of the year when I was doing all the budgets,  I thought it would be a good idea to write out an emergency budget just in case we are faced with the unexpected like job loss or illness.  When the unexpected  happened in the past,  we've  scrambled as soon a possible to cut our expenses.  Having the emergency budget written out has given us peace of mind.  We feel prepared for anything now.

The emergency budget is a bare bones budget that only includes the day to day expenses like food,  petrol,  chemist, and  haircuts etc etc.

A starting point was to look at our usual budget that includes the above items as well as direct debits for our new car,  Cook Island holiday and  local holidays   As I went through each item / category,  I either cut it out of the budget or cut the alloted amount down to the bare minimum we could survive on.

Of course our holiday and car direct debits could be cut it we need to.  There will always be another chance to go on a holiday.  My new car is not needed for a few years so we'll have the time to save.

The emergency budget included a heavily slashed present / gift budget.  If times were tough,  I'd bake biscuits for presents,  make items from my material stash or make boxed sets of greeting cards from my paper stash.  I've always had an overflowing gift cupboard that could supply presents for a year.  Of course there is my jars of jam and bars of soap I could give.  This is an area I feel in control of.

Our wardrobes have plenty of clean, well looked after clothes and shoes with new socks and  under things bought on sale and stored away.  We could easily go a year without needing new clothes.  If the emergency budget had to be put into action,  clothing would not be included.

Our food budget at the moment is about $120 a month for the three of us.  It sounds impossible,  but if we needed to we could cut it down to $100 a month and grow more food and eat really basic meals and snacks.

Thankfully we are pretty healthy and rarely need to buy anything from the chemist.  Sometimes we have too much money put away for chemist expenses.  So if needed this area could be cut down.

We'd cut pocket money right down to the bare bones.  In other words,  just enough to buy one morning tea per month.

Once I'd written out the emergency budget I'd slashed over $1100 for our monthly budget with a possible extra $200 slashed if it meant the difference between sinking or swimming.

Do you have an emergency budget you can fall back on in hard times ?

Will you consider writing out an emergency budget in the near future ?



Saturday, 16 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 16th March 2019

This week has been a waiting game and our nerves are a little on edge.  Megan's baby is due today and we hope she doesn't have to wait too much longer to meet the little bundle of joy.  I promise I'll share the good news with you all as soon as we have news.  Here's what we've been up to this week -

*  Made a whole orange cake using gifted oranges I'd frozen a few months ago.

*  To avoid the takeaway urge we made pizzas from scratch including the bases.  They were so yummy with leftovers eaten the next day.  We don't crave takeaway as such,  just the thought of something quick and easy to eat.

*  We needed to buy a new teapot for 2 after breaking the spout on our old one.  Darren and I walked all over Fountain Gate Shopping Centre trying to find a white,porcelain one with an infuser insert.  Prices ranged from $20 - $38 and they were either too big and not white.  The last kitchenware store in the centre was Matchbox and we found one on sale for $7.50.  When we got to the register it went through for $6.  At that price we bought 2 ( one is a back up ).

*  Made 4  jars of plum and apple jam.  The plums were from the freezer and the 6 red apples were wrinkly and old in the fridge.  The jam recipe has slightly less sugar than the fruit weight and the juice of one lemon.

*  Dried all washing on the line and clotheshorses outside.

*  Decluttered a cupboard and donated the items to Savers.  Received a discount stamp on my card for future purchases.

*  Gratefully received more magnetic strips from older fridges from a friend.  I'll be researching more way to use it in crafting.

*  Repurposed a gift bag and ribbon for a few presents.

*  Gratefully received a carton of milk from a friend.

*  Picked raspberries and a few tomatoes from the garden.

*  Made 7 jars of raspberry jam using berries we'd picked from our garden and frozen over the season.  Homemade raspberry jam is my absolute favourite.  It's so rich in flavour.

*  Fed the compost bin with lots of kitchen scraps and tea bags / tea leaves.


/raspberry jam


Plum and apple jam

White peach jam.

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

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Massaman Beef Curry

Last year I was given a packet of Massaman Beef Curry recipe mix to use in the slow cooker.  Usually I'm sceptical that a packet mix will taste nice but was pleasantly surprised.

Of course I've adjusted the recipe to suit our tastes and budget.  Here's my version of a super yummy and mouth watering curry -

400 - 500 grams of diced beef.  I've used Oyster Blade or Casserole Beef
1  400ml tin of Coconut Cream or milk
1 packet of McCormick's Massaman Beef Curry  ( Slow Cookers ).
5 medium potatoes cut into large cubes
1 1/2 cups of beans
2 medium carrots peeled and sliced
1 tin of boiling water

Turn the slow cooker on high and spray with olive oil or canola oil

Brown the diced beef in a fry pan then add to the slow cooker

Add the diced potato to the slow cooker next then add the other vegetables

In a medium bowl mix together 1 tin of coconut cream and 2/3 of the packet of Massaman Beef curry mix and 1 tin of boiling water.  A whisk is best used to combine these ingredients.

Pour the liquid into the slow cooker making sure there is enough liquid to almost cover everything.  Add a little more boiling water if needed.

Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours until the potato is soft.

Serve with rice.

Serves 6 - 7

NOTES -

*  Any vegetables can be added or substituted in the slow cooker although I think the potato is a must have.

*  I use the cheapest coconut cream available or you can use coconut milk.

*  I only use 2/3 of the packet because we found the recipe mix to be very strong in flavour and heat.   Keep the opened packet in a sealed container or use a clip to seal it.

*  Leftovers are portioned into takeaway food containers with a serve of rice to make it a complete meal.

*  Can be frozen for 6 + months.  Defrost in the fridge then reheat leftovers in the microwave.  Add a little water if needed during the reheat process.

*  Cut the beef into small cube so that it stretches further. .

*  I paid $1.50 for the packet mix.  I'm sure it will be much cheaper in Winter.

 

 Sorry,  due to the heat,  I only took a photo of the leftovers the next morning.




This is the packet I used.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th March 2019

This week has been quite a busy one.  I've had four days of work,  a couple of visitors in the house for two days and trying to stay on tops of the cleaning and meals.  Here's what else I managed to do -

Made one kilo of yoghurt using two tablespoons of natural yoghurt as a starter.  We've been having it with stewed rhubarb as a delicious dessert.

*  Gratefully received lots of little tomatoes from a friend.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Made a double batch of scones.  Some were taken to church for morning tea and the rest were frozen for our own eating.

*  Made 6 jars of jam from the white peaches I was given 1 1/2 weeks ago.  I had to wait until they were ripe enough to cook up.

*  Cleaned the dishwasher using bi carb and vinegar and ran it on a long hot cycle.

*  Stockpiled lots of choc bits for baking.  They are 1/2 price in Coles at $1.97 this week until next Wednesday.  Mostly I use the white choc bits when baking cranberry hootycreek biscuits.  The milk choc bits are using for choc chip biscuit and muffins.

*  Made a batch of dried gravy mix using plain flour,  beef stock powder and a few other seasonings.

*  Made dried seasoned bread crumbs from scratch.

*  Redeemed another $10 worth of points onto our Flybuys card.  We use this money to buy groceries when we go on holidays.

*  Gratefully received some card making supplies and magnetic strips ( from an old fridge door ) from a friend.

*  Saved and recycled household water as per usual.

*  Picked up a pretty single bed doona cover at Savers for $6.99.  I'm not sure what I'll make from it.  Maybe aprons,  decorated hand towels,  jam jar hats and produce bags.

A stockpile worthy price

Op shop doona cover

The reverse side of the doona cover

What was on your frugal list this week ?


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Paint Swatch Book Marks

Over the last few years we've collected many paint swatches from our local hardware stores.  The girl's rooms needed a more modern color than the baby pink that had graced their bedroom walls for over 15 years.  We had new bathroom colors to choose,  window trims to paint and a possible feature wall in our bedroom.  

I will admit when Masters Hardware store was closing down a couple of years ago,  staff members allowed me to take handfuls of paint swatches that would otherwise have been thrown out.  

Here's a quick,  easy and free craft using paint swatches.  They'd make great little gifts to put inside a greeting card or could be a wonderful addition to the Mother's Day / Father's Day stall at school..





*  Trim off the paint name down the side of the swatch.

*  Cover up the back with thick paper to hide the brand name.

*  Trim the bottom edge with fancy scissors

*  Decorate the squares with cut outs,  stickers or thin lace.  Keep in mind that decorations need to be fairly flat so the book pages are not damaged when it's used as a bookmark..


Saturday, 2 March 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 2nd March 2019

Thankyou for all your well wishes regarding Megan's baby shower last Saturday.  It was a lovely morning with family,   friends,  yummy food and a few party games.  Megan and Kurt received some beautiful ( and cute ) baby clothes,  toys and accessories to help with the coming baby.

The rest of the week was spent sewing,  helping Megan organise a few baby related things and surviving Melbourne's latest heatwave.  We've lived on salads,  bbqs,  cold meats and fruit with very little cooking done in the kitchen.  Darren was thrilled to use HIS bbq many nights.

Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Sewed up some baby wraps for when Megan's baby is born.  The leftover scrap material was sewn onto $3 Kmart towels I had on hand.  Megan and Kurt were thrilled with all the goodies.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water to reuse where I could.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Kept the curtains closed on the hot days and used the electric fans when needed before using the evap cooling.

*  Stayed away from the shops as much as possible.  I only went to Spotlight for material and the supermarket for needed groceries.

*  Picked tomatoes and raspberries from the garden.

*  Cooked all meals from scratch and ate leftovers a couple of nights.

*  Avoided the need to get my sewing machine serviced ( $150 + ).  I was sewing the baby wraps the other night when the sewing machine broke down.  I Googled all sort of searches,  watched You Tube clips and got onto a sewing Facebook group.  After pulling the machine apart as much as I could,   cleaning it again and putting it back together,  it started working again.  I see this as a miracle.

*  Cooked a piece of silverside in the slow cooker,  cooled and sliced it thinly to serve with salad and potatoes.  The leftover meat was frozen for future  meals.  This worked out much cheaper than buying the meat from the supermarket deli.

*  Emptied hotel bottles of shampoo and conditioner into our bigger bottles and gave it a good shake.  I'm trying to use things up and make more room in the bathroom cupboard.

*  Leftover flowers from Megan's baby shower cake were divided up into four vases to be enjoyed around our home.

*  Completed extra paid cleaning work.

*  Megan made a balloon garland for her baby shower which cost about $5.  We were going to get helium balloons from Spotlight but they were far too dear.  Megan probably saved $60 +.

Baby wraps I sewed up.

Scraps of material sewn onto towels.

Curtain netting used to bundle the wraps up.

Ready for the baby shower

Jessica made the baby shower cake.

Jessica,  Megan and I

What was on your frugal list this week ?

What's your ' go to ' meal in a heatwave ?


Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - Family Goals

I'm not one for New Years resolutions but I do love to set new goals.  At the start of each year amongst all my planning and budgeting,  Darren and I talk about what we'd like to achieve over the next twelve months.

Sometimes we plan a few years in advance if the goal is a big one.  For the last two years we've been saving for a new car for me.  That's two years of saving with another three years to go.  My car is working just fine but it is almost ten years old and won't last forever.  When we get to our goal in three years time,  if my car is still running trouble free,  we'll just keep those savings locked away and start saving for Darren's new car.  To achieve my ' new car ' goal,  we've worked out how much we want to spend on a car,  when we might need it,  then divided it into a monthly savings goal.

Next year is our 25th wedding anniversary and we'd love to go to the Cook Islands with a short stop over in New Zealand on the way back.  We've decided to go all out and stay in luxury accommodation when at the Cook Islands.  This comes at a large cost so we've been saving for the last three years with another twelve months worth of saving to go before we reach our goal.

Home renovations and repairs are usually ongoing.  Each year we work out what needs replacing and what is the most urgent.  As we save,  we do our research along the way to find the best deals / brands and to make sure we are saving enough money in the allotted time.

Family goals could include children's activities and sports.  Your children might be involved in too many activities that it's harming the family budget or encroaching on quality family time.  Re-evaluating what's important and if it's working should be done before the new season / term begins.

Maybe this year is the year to start your children in sports,  clubs or a new hobby.  Ask around,  do your research and do the sums.  There can be extra costs for costumes,  competitions,  travel,  equipment,  camps or extra training.  Can your budget cope with this ?

Using the first couple of months of a new year to set your goals gives you a great chance of achieving them.  Talking about doing this or that one day is not a plan,  just a dream.  Dreams are great,  but making a plan to reach those dreams is far more satisfying.


Here are some of our previous goals -

Any excuse to post another photo of my new kitchen 2016

Brisbane holiday 2018

Darren's car 2015 - from memory

New lounge suite was 2018's goal.  Arrived last month


What are your goals for this year and how will your achieve them ?

Links to the other posts in this series -

Getting Your Year Into Gear - The Family Budget

Getting Your Year Into Gear - The Gift Giving Budget

.  .

Saturday, 23 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd February 2019

Today is the day of Megan's baby shower.  We've been busy all week getting the house and garden looking nice and tidy.   I baked and cooked food a few weeks ago and froze it ready for the big day.  Decorations have been sourced from the discount shops as well as using what we already have on hand.  Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Refilled all the foaming hand wash pumps around the house with diluted shower gel.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water to reuse on the garden.

*  Finished making thankyou favours for Megan's baby shower.  The jars were gifted and I made the gift tags.

*  Megan made the most of Savers 50% off clothing sale on Monday.  She bought a dress for her baby shower  ( $5 ) and quite a few feeding tops for after the baby is born.

*  Sold the last two large pamper packs and four mini ones  to a cleaning client.

*  Sold two dozen eggs.

*  Gratefully accepted a couple more hours of cleaning work from two clients.

*  Gratefully received quite a few peaches  and glass jars from a friend.

Made one kilo of yoghurt using a small potion of frozen yoghurt as a starter.

*  Picked a couple of bunches of roses from our garden to help decorate the tables at Megan's baby shower.

*  Finished digging down to the bottom of my lipstick.  This gave me three months worth of ' free ' lipstick.

*  Decanted the last of our Vitamin E cream into the next bottle.  The pump doesn't go down to the bottom so there's always about a centimetre of cream left.  It's thick and gluggy so I need to bang the almost empty bottle into the top of the next one.

*  Bought a George Foreman slow cooker from Savers for $7.99 less 15% discount.  It looks like it's only been used a couple of times.  I gave my old one to Megan who said she'd use it with her other one when lots of guests are over.  Now she has two and I have two.

 
Thankyou favours for the baby shower

Gifts for Megan's baby

More gifts mostly from Savers

A garland Megan made for the party

Flowers for the party table

Making yoghurt.


Ripening the gifted peaches

How did you save time,  money or energy this week ?
What has been your latest op shop find ?


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

5 Kitchen Utensils That Save Money

Do you have a drawer full of kitchen utensils that seem to be clutter or a waste or space ?    Try viewing them as money savers,  get them out and put them to work.


My utensil drawer

*  Spatulas in all shapes and sizes.  These are great for getting the last bits of Vegemite, peanut butter,  honey,  butter or jam out of their containers.  Scraping the last bit of pancake batter or cake mix from a bowl could yield an extra portion.  Add up these little savings over the life of the spatula and it could amount to significant savings.


Various sized spatulas

*  Packet clips.  They cost a few dollars for a packet of 8 or 10 but could potentially saves you $10 + per clip.  Just twist the top of the chip / biscuit packet closed then pop on the clip to seal it tight.  Much better than  eating stale chips.


Packet clips




*  Upside down bottle holder ( I don't know what else to call it. ).  I bought this item from a catalogue left on my front door step.  When bottles of sauce or salad dressing become low,  turn it upside down and place it in the holder to drain every last drop out.


Bottle holder

*  Measuring cups and spoons.  These utensils are a wonderful way to ensure correct portioning of ingredients.  They also increase the likelihood of the recipe working out when correct measurements are included which also reduces waste.  Years ago I was demonstrating how to make Miracle Spray for a tv story.  The house I was filming in didn't have measuring spoons or cups so I had to estimate the measurements.  Let's just say the Miracle Spray ended up being too soapy ( dish liquid ) and scented too strongly with eucalyptus oil.   Eucalyptus oil is expensive so it needs to be used sparingly.


Measuring spoons and cups

*  Hamburger press.  What a wonderful way to make hamburger patties from scratch without buying the overpriced processed ones from the supermarket.  Making  hamburger patties fresh or having a stockpile in the freezer will save a fortune by eliminating the need to pay for takeaway.  My hamburger press is a Tupperware one that was gifted to me years ago.  Since then I've bought more storage containers for the freezer as well as extra prssses to give as presents.  All bought in the local op shop for $4.  Bargain. 

Hamburger press