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Budgeting

40 Frugal Ideas to Have Fun These Holidays

Being on holidays doesn't mean that you have to choose between fun our your budget goals. Check out these 40 Frugal Ideas to have fun on your holidays! Photo: Vicko Mozara (Unsplash)

With the holidays approaching it can be a great time of year to plan all those fun activities you’ve been wanting to do. Those ones you keep putting off because you didn’t have the time or money. Sometimes, maybe even the energy. Don’t let your holidays disappear before your eyes without feeling like you made the most of them. I’ve found that in the past, even when I’ve have a free day, it can be hard to think of fun things to do that won’t take up an entire weeks entertainment budget. All you need is a little creative thinking, you don’t have to make a choice between fun and your budget goals!

Being on a budget should not impede you from enjoying your break and having fun. When you put your mind to it, there are really a huge list of things that you can do for fun over the holidays, and they can certainly be done without spending a lot of cash! Plan ahead and rethink your entertainment options, they really are unlimited.

If you have particular interests not mentioned, this list could be even longer! Here are 40 Frugal Ideas to Have Fun These Holidays to get your started! Most of these are free or can be done with very little cost. 🙂

  1. Have a Movie marathon day/night. Select a theme such as 80s movies, or your favourite actors films. Invite friends or family over and have a poll on what to watch. 
  2. Sit down with a partner or friend and listen to an album from start to finish reading over the lyrics. In today’s world of Spotify, Netflix and Social Media, this activity really does get pushed to the back burner. 
  3. Go star gazing. Go on a road trip out of the city and watch the night sky. 
  4. Colour. Grab an adult colouring book and some pencils and get colouring. 
  5. Read a book. Start a new book or read an old favourite. 
  6. Start to learn an instrument or if you already play one, learn a new song. Learning one with a friend – even better.
  7. Cook a nice meal or learn a completely new recipe.
  8. Bake dessert or a cake. Make something special like creme brulee or waffles. 
  9. Play a video game – if you’ve got your old Wii or N64 crack it out. Invite a friend or two over. 
  10. Invite friends over for a board game night. Ask your friends to bring over one game each. Ideas include Chess, Pictionary, Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity or Uno. 
  11. Watch a documentary about a topic you are passionate about. There are stacks on Netflix to choose from.
  12. Watch a stand up comedy show, again there are heaps on  Netflix. Or better yet find a free comedy night in your city.
  13. Binge watch a new TV show that you’ve been dying to watch. 
  14. Have a picnic.
  15. Go for a walk. Drive to a new area for a change of scenery.
  16. Go out for coffee with a friend or relative.
  17. Do something artistic; draw, paint, or get crafty.
  18. Write something a poem, short story, or try your hand at writing song lyrics.
  19. Go to a local BBQ area with friends. Bring some sporting equipment and have a few games. 
  20. Attend a free local event or festival.
  21. Check out the library and read some new books.
  22. Go to a free Museum or Art Gallery you’ve been wanting to go to for ages.
  23. Take a drive to a national park for a hike or bush walk.
  24. Grab the bikes and go for a ride with your partner or friend. 
  25. Swim at the local pools or go explore a new beach. Don’t forget to check out the rock pools!  
  26. Hire a kayak for an hour and explore on water whilst getting some sun and exercise.
  27. If it’s a hot day, have a water fight. Hit up your local Kmart or cheap shop for water guns or water bombs. 
  28. Find a local pool-hall and play a few games.
  29. Check out online event guides for free (or affordable) gigs.
  30. Invite friends over for a cocktail party. Get everyone to bring a bottle of alcohol and juice/soft drinks so you can make a few different drinks.
  31. Go to a botanic garden and explore the different gardens.
  32. Take a trip to the city and bring your camera. Take photos.
  33. Try and find cool cinema playing some unique movies. A foreign film, premiere film or old fave.
  34. Check out Things To Do on Trip Advisor in your city and do what you haven’t done yet.
  35. Go camping for the weekend. Or camp in the backyard.
  36. Go to a Drive in Movie.
  37. Redecorate your home. Shop your home for decor items to freshen up your home. Bring out a new quilt cover and sheet sets, put a new photo in your frames, put on a nice smelling candle and swap your decor items around.
  38. Have a pamper night. Get in your favourite robe, make a DIY face mask & put a hair treatment in. Run a warm bath with some candles and chill out music.
  39. Teach yourself a new skill you’ve always wanted to learn. How to sew, sing, dance, take photos. Look up videos on YouTube and start learning!
  40. If you’re feeling extra motivated, get organised. Declutter the items in your home that you no longer need. Scan any old photos, or cards you want to let go of. Go through your wardrobe and cull anything you no longer wear. Tackle the kitchen cabinets and donate anything that’s not needed. You will feel amazing after all that excess is gone!

What Frugal Ideas For Fun These Holidays do you have? Share them in the comments below so we can grow this list even further 🙂

Need some tips for gift ideas this Christmas? Check out 10 Minimalist Gift Ideas that Add Value to Your Life – Not Stuff! 

Budgeting

13 Effortless Tips to Save Money on Your Travel Budget

Travelling can be costly but doesn't have to break the bank. With a few small tweaks to your spending you can ensure you save money on your travel budget and spend where it counts.

The best part about travelling is preparing the travel budget… eh… said no one ever? Even myself, a self-confessed budget-oholic can feel overwhelmed trying to get the best prices and deals and attempting to not go spend-cray when we are living for the moment on holiday.

Seeing as we have just gotten back from a month in Europe I thought what better time then now to share what tips and tricks I use when travelling to stretch our travel budget. We travel reasonably often on our own as well as on band trips and that can really add up especially if you are not watching what you spend each time. If you are only travelling once every few years you can probably get away with going a bit all out on a hotel room, shopping trips and fine dining on your vacation. But that’s not going to work so well for your budget when it’s a regular gig.

The cost of travel can be significantly reduced with a little bit of planning and being selective with what you will and won’t spend on or just tweaking is so you don’t spend as much ;). Some of it starts before you have booked a thing and others are to help you maintain your goal budget once in your destination.

Check out 13 Effortless Tips to Save Money on Your Travel Budget for how you can save on your next trip!

  1. Shop around for all bookings

Shop around from the get go and consider all options when booking a holiday. Is a hotel cheaper and better value for accommodation or would an Airbnb be better? If you’re just after a bed and shower and plan to be out all day, a hostel could be a more budget friendly option. Can you be more flexible with flights days? Booking a flight the day before or after you planned to or at a less convenient time might cost you some sleep but save you hundreds of dollars per ticket. When booking hire cars get 2-3 quotes so you can make sure you are paying a reasonable rate. A little effort at the start of your holiday planning can add up to huge savings. Don’t forget to use the incognito mode in your browser in order to get the best deals on flights and accomodation!

Potential Savings: Picked Airbnb over Hotel room saving $40 a night on accomodation 

2. Book your flights and accommodation early

Book well in advance for tours, car hire, accomodation and flights. Bookings closer to the travel date means you will end up paying more or missing out on the dates or times you want. If you need a particular travel day or time you will most likely have to pay much more for the same service than you would have if you just planned ahead. A lot of accommodation sites such as Airbnb, Booking.com and some hotels offer free cancellation on bookings up to a certain time depending on their terms and conditions for the place you are booking so you can often get book accommodation in advance and change the booking dates without being hit with fees if you need more flexibility. Budget Traveller recommends booking flights on Tuesday to get the best flight deals.

Potential Savings: Flying on a 7.40am flight over 11am flight saving you $180

3. Walk or take public transport as much as possible

Where possible on your holidays walk to places to get the most out of your travel budget. You will not only save money by skipping the taxi, get some exercise and fresh air as well as get to see more this way than if you were to drive or take a train. If you can’t walk or the distance is a bit far, consider taking a bus or train over a taxi to reduce your holiday transport costs. Look into any travel passes such as 48 or 72 hour passes that are available that might be able to save you on transport costs over the duration of your stay.

Potential Savings: Taking the train or bus $4 fare over $15 per trip taxi ride

4. Find free activities and entertainment

Travelling and sight seeing can be extremely expensive, especially when you have a lot of bucket list items to tick off. We were happy to spend on activities we really wanted to do or see and the rest of the time tried to find free forms of entertainment. This could include exploring your destination city on foot, checking out a local park, spending some time in your resorts pool or at the beach, visiting a free Art Gallery or Museum, checking out some local scenery or chatting to some other travelers at a bar or cafe and swapping stories. Don’t assume everything fun or enjoyable costs money. Seek out budget friendly activities and your travel budget will go much further without you missing out on the really awesome stuff.

Potential Savings: Free museum entry over ticket entry to viewing platform $50

5. Spend your money where it counts

Following on from finding fun free activities, spend your travel budget on the things that matter to you. If you love Theatre go to a show on your trip, see a band you might not be able to see at home, do a group tour to a site on your bucket list. By being selective with where you spend your cash, you can afford to do those really important must do ones.

Potential Savings: Guilt free spendings here to do what you really want thanks to your saving efforts elsewhere 

6. Drink less

Alcohol can be very expensive in a lot of cities around the world. A single drink can set you back $10 or more, particularly if you prefer fancy fruity cocktails like myself. If you are going away for a week you can probably get away with buying a few expensive cocktails with dinner, but when you are travelling for a month that cost is going to eat away your spending money fast. On our most recent trip to Europe we limited drinking in the more expensive cities and stuck to going to bars in the more affordable destinations. There are only so many $14 Vodka and Oranges you can justify on a trip without eating away your travel budget.

Potential Savings: One less cocktail a day at $15, total saving of $105 for the week

7. Pack your lunch and cook occasionally

I actually never thought I would be saying this to anyone but here I am. A couple of weeks ago we were in the Faroe Islands and Iceland and were astounded at the price of food! We thought we lived in one of the most expensive cities in the world but this was a whole new level of expensive! On our first day in the Faroe Islands we paid $40 for two small sandwiches and two small bottles of soft drink. Ouch! We planned to stay eleven nights out of thirty in Europe in Faroe and Iceland and knew paying such hefty food bills three times a day was going to completely blow our travel budget.

Instead of forking out $50 plus per meal we grabbed some groceries to make breakfast at our accommodation each morning to save us buying one meal each day. We also grabbed a few ingredients to make up some sandwiches to take on the road for lunch a few of the days. A handful of the nights we cooked or heated up frozen meals. It’s not something you probably need to do for a short overseas trip in an affordable location but is extremely helpful when you are planning a longer stay, particularly in the more expensive destinations where eating out day to day is going to cost a lot more than you expected.

Potential Savings: Eating breakfast at your accomodation total savings $15 to $30 per day

8. Shop less

I know a lot of people who travel plan to go shopping potentially leading to Mindless consumption. I’ve never really understood this myself, I can shop any day of the week in Sydney and don’t feel spending my time on holidays stuck inside four walls at a mall is a valuable use of my time or airfare. Since I don’t shop on holidays unless I really need something, I not only save myself money when travelling but save myself time. Time that I would much rather use exploring a new city and country, not on finding stuff I can cram my home with.

That doesn’t include the nuisance of lugging around heavy, packed to the brim luggage on your flights or paying excess baggage fees which seem to be getting more and more exorbitant. Once we cut out unnecessary shopping on our holidays it meant we could afford to travel more often and didn’t need to save up a whole bunch of excess cash for spending.

Want to know how to pack minimally for your next trip. Check out these 16 Easy Tips for your next trip!

Potential Savings: Not shopping everyday $100+?

9. Be selective with souvenirs

On our first couple of overseas trips we felt the need to bring home souvenir from each place we visited. How could you show that you’d been to Thailand without a key ring to show? You name it we bought it; decorative souvenir plates, key rings, snow globes (which always seem to break :/) and a new fridge magnet from each city. That didn’t include the souvenirs we bought back for family.

Soon enough we found ourselves running out of walls and space to house them all.  And I’ve got to be honest with you, apart from a select few displayed around our home, we never really looked at the others sitting on the shelf. We realised that we probably didn’t need all these trinkets to remember our holidays and that the majority of them were really just dust collectors. We decided to limit our souvenir collection for future trips and decided to be a little bit more creative about what we did bring home.

This past trip we limited our souvenirs to coins we collected from each location, ticket stubs from places we visited on our trip, post cards for our family and a small number of post cards we picked out for ourselves. We also took many photos to remember our travels. Not buying souvenirs made travelling easier as we weren’t risking going over our weight allowance and didn’t have to worry about having breakables in our bag that might get damaged in transit. If you do find joy in souvenirs pick one or two you would love to display in your home from your destination but just keep in mind if you do love to travel these are going to add up over time.

Potential Savings: resisting going overboard with souvenirs $50-100+

10. Pack thoughtfully

By bringing what you need you can reduce the money you spend at your destination and help your travel budget. Unless you do your research, some destinations can really set you back for things you can buy affordably at home. I lost one of my gloves in Iceland and the cheapest pair I could find as a replacement was $40. I left my raincoat at home due to limited space in our luggage thinking my umbrella would be fine, and after realising that umbrellas are redundant in the European weather, the cheapest raincoat at my destination that I could find was from $150 AUD. Keeping a travel check list can help you to remember all the important things you will need for your trip and save you buying them! Packing a Capsule Wardrobe can go a long way to covering you for all your clothing needs on your holiday.

Potential Savings: The cost of buying clothes etc $20+

11. Utilise Free WIFI

Save money on your travel budget by taking advantage of free WIFI. Buying a sim at each of your destinations can add up. For most of our destinations we got away with using our Airbnb’s WIFI and Free WIFI in cafe’s. Downloading Google Maps of our destinations also really helped us to access the maps we needed whilst out and about.

Potential Savings: Staying in an airbnb and not paying the $10+ a day WIFI charge for each phone, potentially $70 per person a week

11. Keep your mind open to alternative tourist attractions

Consider alternative options, outside of main tourist areas to help your travel budget go further. In Iceland, we realised that we’d left it too late to book the Blue Lagoon Pools. We decided rather than to go at night we’d try and find another Geothermal pool on our road trip. We found one on our route that ended up only costing $80 for the both or us versus the $200 + it would have cost had we booked at the Blue Lagoon. It ended up being a good thing and meant we had saved a fair wad of cash for more adventures!

Potential Savings: Picking a lesser known tourist attraction for a similar but more affordable one without the crowds $100

12. Shop around for your travel card

Travel cards can charge a range of fees and eat into your spending money. After purchase fees, reload fees, currency conversion fees, ATM fees and the like they can quickly eat up your fun money. When shopping around be sure to compare as many options on the market. A good starting point is Choice’s Travel Money Card comparison but be sure to check the cards website before deciding to ensure you have the most up to date information.

A good starting point is to find a card that has no purchase or reload fees (fees to add money to your card), and ideally one with a low currency conversion charge or none at all and no ATM fees. I recently used the Multi-Currency Cash Passport which had limited fees mainly related to Australian ATM use. Another one I was keen on getting but ran out of time to get  was Virgin’s Velocity Frequent Flyer Card which also allows you to earn points as you spend.

Potential Savings: $5 ATM fees per withdrawal, $10 reload fees, conversion fees

13. Set a daily budget before you leave for your holiday

Don’t wait to arrive at your destination to think about the travel budget. Before we left for our trip we set a daily budget and converted that amount in each currency we needed based on how many days we were staying in each. This gave us a stopping point so we could visibly see when we were nearing the end of our budgeted spending money.

If you are budgeting $150 a day as a couple and staying somewhere for two weeks, only convert $2100 in spending money. If you need more you can always add more later, but that limit will help set you a guide day to day for whether you are within your travel budget or over and you can adjust your spending accordingly. It’s best to research the cost of local restaurants, transport etc from travel bloggers or ask a friend who has been before to get an idea of what  you should be budgeting.

Potential Savings: Sticking to your $125 a day travel budget rather than not having one and ending up spending $200 a day or $500 extra than planned over a week

How do you travel on a budget? What are your tips for stretching your dollar further whilst still having an amazing, fun holiday? Share your tips in the comments below 🙂

Want more tips on how to save money for your next trip? Check out these 10 Easy Tips to Save Money on Your Groceries! 

 

 

Minimalism

The True Cost of Our Stuff

Often when we shop our main decision basis is one of price. We review the price tags as well as asking ourselves questions like; is it on special? Does it come with something free? Can I get two for one or buy one get one half price? We assume that we are frugal or budget savvy by considering these price points before purchasing. The issue is that this often means that the true cost of a purchase is not considered.

When we only consider these price points in the decision making process for new purchases we forget the most important costs. One of the prime and irreplaceable costs being – our time. One of my favourite quotes is from Minimalist blogger Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist. He says “We don’t buy things with money. We buy them with hours from our lives.” A thought I try to be conscious of this each day.

Before we head out to the shops, or to buy something online – or anywhere, we need to consider a few things. Not just the money spent to make that purchase, but the investment of time involved in owning something. This assessment allows us to truly make wiser purchasing decisions and to consider the true cost of our stuff.

There is much more that needs to be considered than just price alone. Here are 7 other things you should consider when making purchasing decisions to assess the true cost:

  1. Lack of mobility

When you consume excessively your rob yourself of future opportunities. What if a new position came up interstate that would be perfect for you but because you have a huge home filled with stuff you can’t move. What if you find the perfect rental property and you need to be out in a week but miss out because you can’t physically pack up all of your stuff that quickly. What if you need to sell your house whilst the market is booming but you take three months to declutter and pack your stuff and during that period the market drops suddenly and you lose thousands in the lost market price? Having too much stuff can hold you back from decisions that make you happy and add to your life and stop you from being mobile when you need to be.

  1. Environmental Cost of Excessive Consumption

When we consume in excess we increase our impact on the environment. Everything you buy comes with packaging – boxes, plastic, tape, tissue paper, foam and other stuff that will quite possibly end up in landfill. Not to mention the cost on our natural resources. Clothing manufacturing uses vast amounts of water and chemicals. The more we buy, the more our valuable resources are depleted and the more waste we create.

This impact is often not seen by the consumers but born by the wildlife and locals who live in the areas of manufacturing. Check out True Cost on Netflix for a great documentary on the environmental and human cost of our fast fashion industry. 

  1. Opportunity Cost

This is the cost of what you could have done with that money had you not spent it on a new outfit or tech gadget. Instead of buying more stuff you could have invested that cash in yourself such as; by starting your own business, signing up for an educational course, contributing to your retirement, going on a holiday, paying off your mortgage or other debt. All these things have the potential to greatly improve your circumstances.

When people reach the end of their lives the common regret is not wishing they bought more things over there life times, but wishing they would have spent more time with family and friends and traveled more. There would be more time to do in our younger years if we stopped working more and more to buy things we don’t need. Rather than spending our hard earned cash on more stuff, we should consider the true cost – the opportunity costs of spending that money on stuff which could have been redirected to save for our future and retire earlier and have more time to spend with the people we love, doing things we truly enjoy!

  1. Less time for your important relationships.

Whilst you are spending all Saturday morning cleaning your large home you’ve missed out on brunch with a friend, going out with the kids on a road trip, a morning walk with your wife.

The more stuff we have the more time we invest in cleaning it, maintaining, repairing not to mention the other stuff we don’t think of – the time we spend unpacking and setting it up, the time we spend reconciling our accounts each month, filing our receipts, finding a place for the item, washing it, moving it to dust or vacuum. The list goes on.

When buying something new ask yourself what is the true cost of this item? Are you prepared to spend the extra time to look after this item, dust it regularly, iron it weekly, pay for maintenance costs, take it for repairs when necessary and so on.

This goes for buying a house. A house is one of the biggest drains on your time. Consider whether you really need a two story mansion for you family of three or if you would rather spend the time you would have spent cleaning each weekend with your family not to mention the extra work hours needed to cover the larger mortgage.

 

If you like this article you may also be interested in reading “10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life“.

 

  1. The Cost to Our Health.

The more we spend, the more money we need to bring in to stay ahead and on top of our debt. Maybe you are working 80 hours a week to bring in the big bucks to keep up with your spending. As a result of overworking you get home too tired to spend time with your family or do anything for yourself like exercise or read a book. You begin to live for the weekend with Monday to Friday just being a blur of alarm clocks and falling asleep on the couch.

Not only is your health suffering from lack of time to exercise, cook a nutritional meal and relax after work but you will be carrying around a lot more stress if you are living pay-cheque to pay-cheque. This can soon escalate if you are constantly worrying how you will meet your bills and debt repayments each month. Many people are reaching retirement age saddled with large consumer and mortgage debts without considering the consequences if they suddenly have to retire due to health concerns.

  1. Anxiety and Stress Caused by Excess Clutter

Having lots of stuff adds stress and anxiety into our lives even if we are not aware of it. Clutter makes it difficult to relax physically and mentally and can make it an embarrassing time if unexpected guests rock up. Not to mention the added stress of not being able to find things, having to step over things constantly, pick up things endlessly to tidy up, or seeing cluttered spaces every time you open your drawers or wardrobe. The clutter is always there to remind us. This stress can be reduced by minimising your possessions and limiting what new items you bring into your home. Having space in your home, a sanctuary that you love can do wonders to alleviate stress and anxiety.

  1. Missing Out On Valuable Experiences

When we become so obsessed with buying more and more stuff we often miss out on the important things in life like experiences. How many people do you know that have never been on a holiday but easily spend money on other things without much thought – their nails, a daily coffee, an expensive car, new jewellery or outfit for a party. They constantly say I can’t afford to travel and yet don’t realise that if they were just a bit more intentional with their spending that they too could go on an occasional holiday. Whether it be a local one, interstate or overseas.

It doesn’t even have to be a holiday. Maybe they want to go to a fancy restaurant for their anniversary but can’t afford it. Sometimes we place more value in things that we can see and hold and keep and hold onto for years and years and we forget the importance of creating memories with loved ones. If you just saved $20 a week – just 2.5% of a $50000 annual after tax salary, you would have over $1000 saved with interest to invest in an experience that is important to you. It could be a weekend away, spa day and nice dinner and only takes a very small sacrifice each week.

Have you identified the true cost of stuff in your life? What changes have you made since to your purchasing choices? Share you comments below 🙂

Check out How I Discovered Financial Freedom Through Minimalism for more benefits on focusing less on our stuff and more on what is truly important to us.

Minimalism

How to Reduce Your Waste Footprint

This week I finally caught up with watching the ABC’s #WarOnWaste program hosted by Craig Reucassel and was completely shocked at the level of waste in Australia. And not just the unwanted stuff, but the perfectly good food that is going to waste.

I do try and be mindful of our waste and try to be conscious of waste in my home. Whether that be by only buying what is on our list, trying to use up as much of our fresh produce as we can and by recycling everything that we can. I wasn’t aware of the true situation of Australia’s waste and couldn’t be more grateful to this show for helping me realise that. If you are yet to see it please do. You will not regret it and living in ignorance is a big part of the problem. Let’s be educated! You can watch all three episodes of War on Waste on ABC’s iView.

I’m hoping to share some information I got from the show as well as tips you can try at home to reduce your waste and impact on the environment.

SOME QUICK WAR ON WASTE FACTS

  • Every year the waste we generate in Australia is growing twice the rate of our population.
  • As a nation we use over 2 million shopping bags a day.
  • In Australian households 20% of food is binned.
  • The average family throws out $3500 worth of food each year.
  • 40% of bananas along with other fruits and vegies are binned due to strict cosmetic standards. Often these are just because a banana is too long or short or curved, or a potato has an irregular shape – the freshness of the item is not taken into account.
  • Australian’s throw out a tram-full of coffee cups every half hour.
  • the greenhouse gases produced by food waste in Australian landfill each year is equivalent to the emissions of Australia’s steel and iron ore industries combined

TIPS ON REDUCING YOUR HOUSEHOLD WASTE

  1. Meal plan and shop from a list to avoid buying excess food. You can always buy more but you often can’t take the excess back. Only buy what you need. If you only plan to use two tomatoes don’t buy a pack just because they are cheaper. When you bin four of them they won’t be. See here for more tips on how you can save on groceries and reduce the food waste in your home.
  2. Buy a reusable coffee cup. I got one from Keep Cup and have seen many others in Kmart, Typo and other stores.
  3. Bring your reusable bags. Shopping bags are the worst thing that an end up in landfill and are very hard to recycle. Bring your own reusable bags instead and help reduce the number of bags ending up in landfill.
  4. Bring in any spare bags to your supermarkets bag recycling bin.
  5. Extend the life of your herbs by putting them in a glass of water as soon as you bring them home.
  6. Test eggs by dropping them into a glass of water. If they sink they are okay to eat.
  7. Avoid taking bags for fresh produce. Put them in your trolley, basket or reusable bag.
  8. Check your fridge regularly to see what leftovers you need to eat or groceries to use up.
  9. Rotate your new food to the back, and older food move to the front so you can use up the food items that will expire sooner.
  10. Put your food in a container as soon as you open it can help minimise waste and keep it fresher for longer.

RECYCLING TIPS

  • Remove the lids from your plastic bottles and make sure they are empty before you place them in your recycling bin. In the sorting areas of recycling plant paper and plastics are separated. If bottles still contain liquid it will stop them being blown up into the plastics sorting area in the chain line so be sure to empty them out before you put them in your recycling bin.
  • Any recycling items left in plastic bags are not recycled. This slows down the sorting process so those bagged items do not go on to be recycled. Keep all your recyclables bag free.
  • If you have broken glass or ceramics like ovenproof dishes, drinking glasses or mugs, creatively reuse or place in your rubbish bin, because just 15g of ovenproof glass can contaminate one tonne of normal glass, making it useless for recycling.
  • Consider composting your food scraps to reduce the wood waste in land fill and the emissions that creates.
  • When recycling containers give them a quick rinse, they do not have to be spotless. Remove stuck on food from paper and cardboard before recycling.
  • Recycle your Printer Cartridges via the ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark‘ recycling boxes in participating Australia Post, Officeworks, Harvey Norman, and Dick Smith Electronics stores.
  • Mobile Phones can be recycled through MobileMuster.
  • Batteries, CDs and light globes can be taken to your nearest library. Check with them in advance to make sure they accept these things.
For more tips on recycling check out the Planet Ark website.

REUSING ITEMS AROUND YOUR HOME

  1. Another way to reduce what your household sends to landfill is to find creative ways to reuse what you do have. This is a great way to get crafty, save some money and help the environment. Try these handy tips:
  2. Reuse old candle and condiment jars. They can holds spare buttons, screws in your garage, 100s and 1000s, tea bags etc.
  3. Wash out takeaway containers and re-use as much as possible before they break. Smaller ones for gravy can be used to bring small snacks in such as lollies or nuts.
  4. Wash old shampoo and conditioner and other bottles to use when travelling. I also use these to store our current soap in a smaller container that doesn’t take up as much space as the bulk 1kg containers.
  5. Use an old baby formula tin to make a home-made wet wipe dispenser
  6. Cut up old towels into cleaning rags instead of using sponges or paper towel.
  7. Re-purpose gift containers or things that come with boxes such as perfume or a watch to organise junk drawer items.
  8. Give an old pot plant some new paint to give it a new lease of life.
  9. Up-cycle old cereal boxes or cardboard boxes into storage boxes for your drawers. Cut the bottoms off and wrap with your favourite coloured wrapping paper.
  10. Repair old clothes if possible rather than binning them. Sew on a new button, or take it to the alterer for repair if it is something out of your skill level.
  11. Use toilet rolls to wrap and identify your spare cables. They can also be used for arts and crafts projects with the kids.
  12. Use old sauce jars for decorative pieces. We put musical craft paper in ours with a candle and some yarn as a wedding ornament.
  13. If you have excess frames get a picture or make an artwork for a gift for a family or friend.
  14. Use an old t-shirt to make a bag. I cut up old t-shirts of my husbands that were perfectly good, but that he didn’t wear and made two laundry bags for travelling.
  15. Decorate old tin cans and use for planting herbs or storing stationery.
  16. Use old CDs to create a shiny mosaic artwork or mirror.
  17. Donate an old bed sheets and some pegs and a torch for your kids own fort kit.
  18. Drilling into an old dinosaur toy can make a cool toothbrush holder for your kids.

>>If you want more information on how you can reduce your excess consumption check out
10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life

LET’S GET CREATIVE

Other creative ways to help reduce your household waste:

TOY LIBRARIES

Old toys are donated here and can be borrowed, just like library books for kids to use and return in a few weeks. This is a great way to reduce unwanted toys ending up in landfill, having excess permanent clutter in your home and to save money. Kids can outgrow toys fast so this sounds like an amazing solution. Click here for more information from War on Waste and here to locate your closest toy library.

CLOTHES SWAPS

Thanks to fast fashion clothing is ending up in landfill in larger numbers than ever before. With the current price of clothing and often lack of quality materials, it’s no wonder we are binning more clothes than ever. In order to combat this clothes swap meets are a great option. You  can bring some unwanted clothes to swap for someone else’s unwanted items and go home with something new that you love all the while avoiding adding to landfill. For more info on Clothes swaps click here. The Clothes Exchange holds occasional clothes swap meets that are free of charge when you register.  Or you can hold your own clothes swap parties with friends or family. Ask everyone to bring in a few pieces they would like to swap and a plate of food and get swapping!

REUSING YOUR OLD MOBILE PHONES

If you have a spare (or multiple) old phones lying around consider these options to reuse them:

1. Make a kid friendly phone for your kids (no more dropping your phone ;))
2. Use your phone as a dedicated MP3 player and save all your memory on your current phone.
3. Use your phone as a digital radio.
4. Turn your old phone into a hand-held gamin device
5. Use it as a security monitor for your home.
6. Use your old phone without a sim for storing encrypted data.

Click here for more information on how you can reuse your old phones from War on Waste. Alternatively take your phone to be recycled at your nearest Mobile Muster recycling box.

Share the Dignity

Share the dignity is an Aussie charity that aims to provide assistance to homeless women. Each year they do a collection called “It’s In The Bag” in the weeks leading up to Christmas where they ask you to donate a handbag in good condition to someone less fortunate and fill it up with useful things such as sanitary items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, a book you no longer need, pajamas, tissues, lotions -anything to make a women facing hard times feel special. I did this last year and look forward to doing it again this November. If you have any jewellery you no longer want, or can spare some extra cash with your weekly shop add a few things to your trolley that you can put into your handbag for the next collection. This is a great way to dispose of some unwanted items thoughtfully and make someone in needs day 🙂

WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO

If you want to do more, War On Waste have provided some more information and the contact details for each State that is yet to Ban The Bag. If we all Ban(d) together and take action by emailing our State’s Premier we might have a chance of making a much needed change!

Do you have any tips to reduce food and other waste in your home? Have you found creative ways to up-cycle items around your home to help limit things ending up in landfill? Share your tips below 🙂

Budgeting

How the Debt Snowball Can Get You Debt Free Faster

There is no faster ticket to financial freedom than being debt free. Having  debt can weigh us down and keep us from making changes in our life for the better. Whether that be freeing up money to add to your retirement savings, taking a new role that you love but that involves taking a pay cut or even the improvement in your health from the reduced stress that comes with being debt free.

About a year ago I came across a book called the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. It was here that I first came across the Debt Snowball Method for reducing your debts. I’d always considered focusing on the interest rate the smart way to go about debt repayment. It seemed more financially savvy to me to focus on the dollars involved and interest saved. If you are paying more interest on one debt over another, why would you pay the one with the lower interest rate out first? Since discovering this new method I can see the advantage in paying off debts from the lowest to highest balance over focusing on the interest rate.

Paying off debts is a hard slog. When you see how many years and repayment periods are left it may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and you will be paying them off indefinitely. The key to the debt snowball is building momentum. Building new habits is tough and we often need instant rewards in order to keep us working towards out goals.

When we want to lost weight we join a gym and closely watch the scales. It can be hard to stay motivated when those scales don’t budge in the beginning. If you lost a kilo that first week, it would help you stay focused and more determined on your weight loss journey. This is why the debt snowball can be so effective at helping you get on top of your debt. It focuses on knocking down the smallest and easiest debts to tackle first. With each debt repaid, you can see your progress a lot sooner than if you attempted to pay out a much larger debt just based on the fact that you were paying a higher interest rate.

>> If you like this post, you’ll love: “10 Easy Tips Save Money Groceries Budget“<<

Before I go into the debt snowball method I want to mention another step that is equally important before starting your snowball.

BUILDING AN EMERGENCY FUND

Before attempting the debt snowball it is best for you to save an emergency fund. Dave Ramsey and a lot of other finance experts recommend having and emergency fund of $1000. I would suggest going a little bit further and aiming for $1500. In my experience if your hot water system goes or your car dies and needs an expensive repair $1000 doesn’t always cover your emergency costs. Just having that little bit more will give you piece of mind especially if two emergencies rear their head at the same time!

This $1500 is a reasonable savings buffer to help you in times of emergency when you would normally throw those amounts on your credit card. There is no point trying to pay down your debt if you are going to be wracking them up again and living paycheck to paycheck with no plan for unexpected expenses. You’re just going to end up back where you started.

And let’s face it, there are always going to be budget emergencies. Just like it rains on the weekend, there are going to be rainy days where your best intentions to budget are going to take a hit. Do what it takes to save up your $1500 emergency fund and ensure that it is only used for emergencies. If you have to dip into it because your had to replace a tyre or you have a dental emergency, the money will be there for you. Just be sure to save up your emergency fund again as soon as possible.

Once you have saved your emergency fund you can move onto your debt snowball.

THE DEBT SNOWBALL

With a few minutes of planning you can be well on your way to paying down your debt. Here are the four steps to use the debt snowball method:

Step One:

Write down all your current debts in an excel worksheet or piece of paper (Exclude your mortgage, this will be tackled once you have paid back all of your consumer debt and saved a 3-6 months expense fund). Go back to your loan paperwork, online banking or credit card statements and work out what your current debt balances are for all outstanding debts as at today. Then, take note of what rate of interest you’re paying (for full awareness of your debt) and your monthly minimum repayment.

For the Australians out there, getting a current HELP loan debt statement is not possible as these are only sent out annually with your tax return. Instead, enter the HELP balance that was on your most recent Tax Assessment paperwork and make a note to update this when you get your next one.

Step Two:

Once you have written all your debts down, number them from  1, 2, 3 from the smallest balance to the largest. Debt Number 1, the smallest debt balance will be the one that you are going to pay off first and attack with your debt snowball. The last and highest debt balance will be the last.

Work out based on your current budget, how much extra on top of the minimum repayments you can afford to put on your smallest debt for that month. If your lowest debt has a minimum monthly repayment of $25 and you can spare another $100 a month, start paying the $25 minimum repayment plus the additional $100 repayment, or whatever it is that you can afford.

Continue to pay Debt Number 2, 3 and so on as minimum repayments. Continue to do this until Debt Number 1 is full paid off. If you get any additional income, a bonus for example, or you were under budget for the month putting that extra money as an additional top up payment on your Number 1 debt will help you knock it down even faster.

Step Three:

Once your smallest debt is repaid, take the minimum payment for Debt Number 1, in the example above, that would be $25 a month and add your additional repayments of $100 a month and add this to the minimum repayment for Debt Number 2 – your second lowest debt.

This means you will now be paying a much larger amount on your second debt – saving you significantly in interest and getting you to your debt free goal much quicker. If your monthly repayments for Debt Number 2 were $40 you will now pay the minimum amount of $40 plus the $25 and $100 you were using to pay of debt number one. Continue to do this until debt number two is paid.

Step Four:

Continue to do this for each of your debts in the snowball until the last one is paid off. For each new debt paid off you will be taking the past minimum repayments plus your additional repayment and carrying it forward to the next debt in your snowball. Like a snowball, the repayment for each will grow and pay off a bigger chunk of each debt as it grows and moves to your next biggest balance.

There are no short-term solutions to paying off debt. It is going to be a slow and difficult journey but one that will be well worth it. Imagine all the things you could be doing with your cash if you were debt free. Put a deposit on a house, go on that dream six month holiday. Maybe you want to start your own business or invest for your retirement.

Keep these dreams at the forefront of your mind! Every time you feel like giving up ask yourself if you are willing to give up on your financial dreams.

STOPPING THE DEBT CYCLE

Here are some tips to help you stay out of debt and to help you get to your debt free journey sooner:

  1. If you can’t afford it don’t buy it. Are you about to buy something on the credit card? Stop! Whatever you are buying you are paying a 19% interest amount on top each year that balance is left unpaid. Does that sale price look so good now?
  2. Cut up your credit cards. If you are the kind of person that can’t resist a good deal and doesn’t pay your credit card off in full each month it is time to cut those cards up!
  3. Stop trying to impress others. No one cares what brand clothing you wear. People are too worried about their own lives to focus on your daily outfit choices.
  4. Learn to be content with what you have. Do you really need a brand new $35k car on finance on your $50k salary when your current car works perfectly fine? Are you willing to pay x dollars every month for the next 60 plus months? In good times and bad – when you are unemployed, when you are trying to live on one income, when you decide to cut back hours at work to study for a new career – that debt is going to still be there.
  5. Stop going shopping! It’s surprising how little you spend when you avoid going to the shops unnecessarily. If you have endless emails from clothing shops or stores that tempt you unsubscribe from them! Instead of going shopping, meet a friend for coffee, read a book, watch a movie. There are plenty of hobbies that are much cheaper and more valuable uses of your time.

For tips on saving more money to help you free up cash for your debt snowball check out 11 Everyday Tips to Save Money.

What are your debt goals? Do you have a plan in place to become debt free? Are you using the debt snowball method to pay down your debt? Comment below your goals and wins to achieve financial freedom below 🙂

Organising

How An Organised Space Can Save You Money

I’ve always been a bit of a frugal-er, trying to limit waste and unnecessary spending where I could and had a desire to get more organised. After living out of home for five years, I realised we’d developed some bad habits.

We were binning massive amounts of spoiled food each week. Most of it fresh food we’d bought with good intentions but just hadn’t gotten around to eating. Finding stuff in the pantry was a difficult process with random cans thrown in sporadically and no real organisation system. We’d go shopping list-less and come home with five cans of corn only to realise we already had eight in the pantry.

We were constantly leaving things to the last minute. Often realising we’d forgotten to buy a birthday present, we’d rush around hoping we could find something the day of the party in sheer craziness. Cleaning was an ordeal having to try and vacuum around whatever clothes and furniture items we had on the floor.

I was sick of the disorganisation and having unnecessary stress in our lives. After being overwhelmed by clutter, and the anxiety and stress it caused me I set out to change my home environment. I wanted to have a more calming space – I didn’t want to see mess everywhere and trip over things.

Once starting the decluttering process of my home I realised there was an added benefit to having an organised space. It was aiding our budgeting and helping us to save more money. Here is How an Organised Space Can Save You Money and how it has benefited us.

1. Save on groceries and buying duplicates.

Since organising our home we can now see what we have at a glance. In the pantry, all cans are lined up, long-life milk, snacks are in the one place which makes creating our shopping list that much easier. Our fridge is no longer filled to capacity as we only buy what we will need for the week ahead. This means we can reduce the food we are wasting each week and save on our grocery bill. Having an organised space allows us to avoid bringing home multiples of an item we already have, whether that be groceries or things we misplace or have just forgotten we have.

2. Reduce your clothing budget.

Organising your wardrobe is a huge game changer in terms of spending. Before I discovered the amazement of being organised I used to have my wardrobe and drawers overflowing with clothes. Each wash day I’d shove a new pile in, on top of the stuff that had just become accustomed to staying at the bottom of the drawer. I remember the first time I decided to declutter my wardrobe, I found three pairs of black shorts. I’m not sure how many pairs of black shorts anyone needs, but the fact that I had three that I had not only not worn in years, but didn’t even know I had them was quite eye-opening to me.

From that moment I realised how important it is to keep what you have organised and to regularly assess what you have so you know what items you own. In the past I would just buy new clothes, chuck them in a drawer or in my wardrobe with the intention of wearing them and often completely forgot I had ever bought them. I’d never really taken stock of what clothing I owned. Now when I go shopping I know at least 99% of my wardrobe off the top of my head. I know what shoes I have to mix and match with outfits and can better select what I am bringing into my wardrobe.

3. You’re more content living in a smaller home.

Since organising our home the feeling of claustrophobia has diminished. I no longer feel like our house is too small and that we need more space. I’m rarely tempted to look at larger homes to buy. Even if it springs to mind when I see a nice photo of a home, I remember how much I love cleaning a smaller home and how I would never want the additional hours of work to pay for one and lost hours keeping up with the maintenance that comes with a bigger home. After decluttering all areas of our home we’ve actually managed to free up some storage space and are in no rush to fill them back up.

4. Planning ahead is easier and you can avoid impulse purchases.  

About two years ago I started using a diary to get more organised. After about a year I switched to a Bullet Journal and was instantly impressed by the simplicity it brought to my life. By being more organised and writing in my bullet journal I am able to save money in numerous ways. Whether it be planning ahead for dinner so I can avoid buying take out that night. Making a note to buy a gift for someone a month ahead instead of running around the day before in a rush and blowing the gift budget. Or making a note to compare prices on a new purchase in order to get the best price and save money.  

5. You’ll become more intentional with purchases.

Now that we have decluttered our home we are very keen to keep it from getting out of hand again. This impacts my day-to-day activities and spending. I no longer walk into shops aimlessly to pass time or find some kind of satisfaction from buying something new.

Before I buy anything now, it has to hold up to a range of requirements. I will ask myself questions such as do I really need this? Do I have a place for it? Is it something I will be willing to dust from now until when I get rid of it? Most of the time the answer is no and I walk away from it.

When you start making more conscious decisions with what you are purchasing on a daily basis you develop new habits and soon enough the desire to buy lessens and your desire for a calm, organised space keeps you from reverting back to old habits.

6. Save money not having to replace lost items.

Have you ever gone to look for something and not been able to locate it? I am pretty sure we have all been here. You think to yourself, maybe I never had it or gave it away? You go out to replace the items. Sometimes the original turns up and you feel a little silly but even after turning the house upside down at the time you couldn’t find it! This is another way an organised space can save you money. By having organisational systems in place you can avoid losing things in your home and replacing them. Even more importantly this wastes another important resource, your time. Imagine all the more important things you could be doing with the time wasted looking for lost items.

7. You can sell your unwanted stuff online. 

Another way an organised space can save you money is as you organise you will truly realise how much excess you have in your home. After a while we begin to grow used to seeing our stuff and don’t realise how much of it there is.

Have you ever walked into someones house and felt claustrophobic from all the stuff?! You’ve probably not even noticed your house might be heading in the same direction. It’s not until you start questioning what you do and don’t use that you realise you could live without some of the stuff cluttering up your home.

The great thing about decluttering is that your unwanted items can be useful to other people and that can help you claw back some of the money spent on excess items you have in your home. You will never get all of your money back, and sometimes you won’t get any of it but it is possible to sell your clutter and add to your savings account.

It is truly amazing how much you can get for old electronics, gaming consoles, clothes, camera gear, books or whatever other junk you might have in your to go pile. If you’re reluctant to give something away because you spent a lot of money on it, sometimes knowing that you can get a little bit back from it by selling it makes the letting go process a little easier.

Alternatively, if you don’t need the money or don’t have the time, donate unwanted items to a local charity. Think of all the times you’ve found something you love in an op-shop for a few dollars because someone was generous enough to donate it. Pay it forward! 

8. Being organised saves you time and stress.

When you plan ahead and get organised you can save one of your most precious resources – time! Imagine all the things you could do with your spare time if it wasn’t spent doing mountains of laundry each week! No looking for lost items or spending half an hour clearing out food in your fridge that has gone bad. As they say, time is money and an organised space can save you both! When you no longer have to live with the consequences of an unorganised space, you’ll have more time to spend on more enjoyable things.

How have you found an organised space has saved you money? Comment below with your experience!

  

Budgeting

11 Everyday Tips to Help You Save Money

Sometimes finding ways to save money can seem too hard and an impossibility. You research tips and  think to yourself how is saving $12 a month on bank fees or a few dollars on a coffee really going to have any impact on my savings? How will that help me get on top of my debt or save for a holiday? It may all seems like too much effort with limited results but it is important to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Savings can be found anywhere you spend your money. In order to find them you need to look at where you currently spend your money and get creative about ways to reduce those expenditures. Often it could be as simple as a phone call to ask for a better deal or taking ten minutes to research something a little bit more before hitting the buy button. Becoming complacent about spending can end up with us losing $100s or $1000s of dollars.

Here are 11 Everyday Tips to Help You Save Money. Each one alone may only give you a small increase in your savings, but together they can make a big different over the space of a year and the less money that comes out of your pocket day to day the better for your savings account and future.

1. Review insurance annually

Shop around for all insurance bills annually. Insurance can increase significantly year to year and most companies will take advantage of loyal customers who don’t put the time in to compare what they are being charged. Most insurance companies offer quick online quotes and allow you to alter the market value and excess coverage in order to get a true comparison. Within minutes you can have a few price comparisons for the insurance you are renewing and be well on your way to save money.

I’ve often saved hundreds of dollars doing this and for each insurance type over a year the savings can significantly add up. Do this for your car insurance, home and contents and any other insurance you purchase and it can easily save you hundreds of dollars or more a year. Another option is to call your insurance provider to ask if they can make you a better deal.  

2. Only shop when you have something specific in mind

Avoid going to the shops unless you specifically need something, particularly if the only reason is because you are bored. Make an ongoing list in your phone or planner of what you need as you think of it and take your list with you on your next trip to the shops. Sticking to a list will allow you to limit your shopping to specific stores and aisles, helping you avoid temptations of items not on your list. Not only will this help you save money but also save time, allowing you to use your time more wisely and create more space for more value adding activities.

3. Shop around for mobile phone plans regularly

Phone bills can add a significant cost to your annual budget. To save money shop around for phone plans, particularly if you are on a no lock in contract arrangement and have the flexibility to move around. Phone companies are always updating offers to attract new customers and if you haven’t researched in the past twelve months what offers are available to you, you may be losing out on some amazing savings.

By changing my phone provider, I was able to take up a 6 month phone plan for new customers that was half the price I was paying to my current provider for the same inclusions. This added up to a saving of $210 in the first year. It may not sound like a lot but that saving alone covers my gym membership for the next four months and that is definitely money better spent on my health. 

4. Limit dining out

Limit eating out where possible. If you do want to go out, buy the meal you most prefer to eat out whether that is breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. For me personally I can easily make toast or pancakes at home so I would rather use my dining out budget to pay for dinner which is something much more time consuming for me to create.

For dessert, often instead of going out and paying $30 on top of our dinner bill, I’ll opt for an ice cream at the movies or occasionally have some store bought waffles on hand in the pantry which comes out much cheaper and certainly doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to me! If you have a dinner outing that you don’t want to miss, opt for one of the cheaper menu items so you can socialise whilst avoiding blowing your budget. Alternatively, staying home and making dinner with friends or your partner is always a good compromise.

5. Reduce one of your regular expenses 

What do you buy regularly? Is it coffee? Chocolate? A soft drink at lunch? Pick one expense you buy regularly and try and reduce your spending on that one item. If you love coffee, buy a good quality coffee to have at home and bring your reusable coffee cup out with you. Can you bring in a bottle and have water at lunch instead of spending $4 daily on a coke? Could you cut back on buying the pricey vending machine chocolate on your afternoon tea and just bring some from home? Even if you just cut back slightly, or even make small reductions to two regular expenses that will give your savings a kick start.

6. Create a wish list with a wait period

Sometimes we don’t even realise we are making impulse purchases and taking a step back, or waiting a few of days to think about a purchase can help us be more intentional with what we are buying and bringing into our homes. Creating a wishlist is a great way to think about future purchases. When you come across something you want to buy, write it on your wishlist and try and wait a period of time such as 30 days before buying the items you have listed. This will help you to avoid impulse purchases and make more informed decisions.

A wishlist allows you to truly assess whether this new purchase is needed, if it will add value to your life and whether you want to part with your hard earned cash in exchange for it. It also allows you time to consider other products, look into reviews, ask friend for recommendations and do price comparisons to make sure you are getting the best product for your needs at the best price.

Your wait period can start small and you can gradually increase it to what suits you. To begin with, set a goal to walk away from the shop, say to yourself if I really want this I will come back to buy it before I leave. If you still want the item when you are ready to leave you’ll make the effort. Making educated purchases can help you avoid suffering any buyer’s remorse, having to go through the hassle of a return and save you any disappointment in your purchase.   

7. Review your utility plans

Have you been paying your utility bills on autopilot without reviewing what plan you are on? A quick call to your service provider can save you hundreds in a matter of minutes. Buy contacting my utility provider I was able to switch to a new plan that offered a 16% discount for on time or early payment. A quick ten minute phone call has added up to hundreds of dollars of savings that have helped us to save money and signficantly reduce our utility bills.

8. Unsubscribe from store mailing lists 

We are constantly exposed to advertising whether it be on the radio, TV, Youtube, or when we are checking our email. My inbox seemed to constantly be filling up with new sales and offers from stores and became and unnecessary distraction. Unsubscribe to your unwanted shopping email subscriptions as they come into your inbox. When you aren’t being informed on sales 24/7 you will reduce the desire to go shopping and buy unneccesary things as well as the fear of missing out. Instead of having advertisements telling you what you need to buy, you can be more intentional and only add to your wish list things that you need.

9. Stop paying ATM and monthly bank fees

No one likes paying bank fees, there is no benefit to us for these costs which makes this area a great place to start to save money. Learn where your banks local ATMs and stop withdrawing cash at other bank tellers. Each withdrawal is at $2.50 or more which does add up particularly if you are only withdrawing small amounts. Think ahead or pay by card where you can. Consider getting a card like ING’s Orange Everyday Account which gives a 100% ATM fee rebate.

Another expense that adds up are monthly bank fees. Contact your bank and ask them to wave fees on any bank account that you deposit $1000 or more into each month. If you are being charged monthly bank fees on your mortgage consider changing your home loan to a fee free one or asking for those fees to be waived. These small banking fees add up month to month and are much better in your bank account.

10. Review your super accounts

Do you have one superannuation account for every job you have had to date and have yet to consolidate them? Each superannuation account pays out management and insurance fees and if you are paying for these twice, or more, you are throwing away a large chunk of your retirement savings.  Consolidating your super is a lot easier than some might think. Most super funds just require you to fill in a Consolidate Your Super form and will contact your other superannuation fund to transfer your balance into your new account on your behalf. It may seem like your retirement is a lifetime away but every dollar you can save today is going to make your life a lot easier in the future.

11. Sign up to your local library

I recently joined my local library after hearing about the access to borrowing eBooks and audio books. I never go to the library, but could not pass up access to free ebooks and audiobooks on my phone. You only have to go to the library once to sign up and after download the OverDrive app you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free without having to leave your chair. I’ve listened and read countless audio and ebooks this way. If you aren’t too set on only reading physical copies this is a great way to read more and save money on buying books. They might not have every book you are after but any access to more books is a good thing.

Do you have any tips to save money that have worked for you? Please comment below to share with other readers.

Cleaning

My Favourite Home-Made Cleaning Recipes

Jessica Skene

About a year ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Human Experiment which opened my eyes up to the dangers of having so many chemicals in our homes. I’d been dealing with the frustration of sensitive skin for years meaning I had to be careful of what my skin came in contact with, even dish soap and hand wash would make me break out in an extremely uncomfortable Dermatitis rash. I soon became very passionate about finding ways to keep my home clean, whilst looking after my health and skin and was on a mission to learn about natural home cleaners and testing them out.

After much research and trial and error I came a cross a few staple home-made cleaning recipes that I use regularly.

Here is a list of My Favourite Home-Made Cleaning Recipes. They work just as good in my experience as brand name chemical cleaners and are not only more affordable, but safer to use in your home. Please see my blog on 10 Benefits of Home-Made Cleaning Products for ten reasons why I recommend making the switch.

INGREDIENTS LISTS

These are the basic must have items for your home-made cleaner recipes:

  • White vinegar
  • Dishwashing Liquid (I use Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid Ultra Dry Skin Aloe for sensitive skin)
  • Bi-Carbonate Soda
  • Essential Oils (Tea-tree and Lavender oil preferably)
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottles
  • Labels (use a label maker or stick on labels)

Don’t forget to label all your spray bottles as when you come back in a week you will probably have no idea what is in what bottle. It’s really worth it to save you  figuring out what is in what bottle and having to waste your cleaning products.

These are 9 of my favourite home-made cleaning recipes!

Home-made All Purpose Spray (Two versions)

I have two recipes that both work wonderfully. Sometimes if I am in a rush I will make the simpler version and if I have more time I will go with the second version.

All Purpose Spray (Simple Version)

Fill a spray bottle with warm water and add one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. That’s it! This should be gentle enough to use on most surfaces and is a cleaner I use for all around the home. I would use the Version 2 cleaner for more stubborn stains unless you have stone bench tops. Please check the care guide for your bench tops before using any cleaning products as vinegar can damage stone and other surfaces.

All Purpose Spray (Version 2)

In a spray bottle preferably over a sink (the bottle can overflow with the bi-carb soda and vinegar reacting) put the following

  • 4 Tbsp of white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp of dish washing liquid
  • 2 Tsp of bi-carb soda
  • Fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water.

Spray the solution on your stained surfaces and let sit for about 20 seconds to help break up any hard to move stains. If you are using the bottle when the cleaner is back to room temperature, throw the bottle in the microwave for about 10 seconds and this will help remove harder to move stains. This solution is what I use for everyday All-Purpose Cleaner, just refill when you are out.

As mentioned above please check whether vinegar can be used on your bench tops as some stone benches can be damaged by vinegar.

Linen Spray

This is a spray to help keep your sheet smelling amazing between washes.

Fill a small plastic spray bottle (I use the ones in those travel container packs) with:

  • I cup of distilled water
  • 5-10 drops of essential oils
  • 2 Tbsp of rubbing alcohol

Use this to spray before sleep to spray your bed linens. Lavender essential oils can provide a calming scent but feel free to choose whatever scent you prefer.

Glass Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with

  • ½ Water
  • ½ White Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle

Since starting to use this glass cleaner I have never looked back or thought to buy a regular store bought version. Just make up as described above in a matter of seconds and spray contents of glass cleaner on mirrors or windows and wipe over with a microfiber cloth. You’ll have beautiful, streak-free mirrors and windows in no time. Leave a bottle of this in your bathroom and a microfiber cloth to clean as you go.

Shower/Tile Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with

  • ⅓ vinegar
  • ⅓ dishwashing liquid
  • ⅓ water

This is great for cleaning showers and tiles with a brush or sponge. Another option is to fill a refillable dish washing brush with a mixture of ½ vinegar and ½ dish washing soap to scrub all over the shower with. The vinegar smell will dissipate soon after and dish washing liquid will give you a nice scent over the harsh scents most chemical cleaners provide.

Daily Shower Spray (same ingredients as glass cleaner)

  • Spray bottle
  • ½ water
  • ½ vinegar

I leave a bottle of this in our shower to spray down the shower after each use (well, as often as I can remember to ;)). Spray down the tiles and shower glass and floor if it is the last shower of the morning or night (or last for a while). The vinegar helps to break down soap scum and fights the growth of mould so will make your weekly shower scrub a breeze! Remind your partner or room mates or whoever uses the shower to give it a quick spray over when they step out, it only takes 20 seconds and will save whoever is stuck cleaning it a lot of elbow grease!

As mould loves moisture, another tip from Clean My Space’s Melissa Maker to avoid your bathroom being taken over by it is to squeegee or wipe down the shower screens or tiles with a cloth after each shower. This is a bit more time consuming than the after shower spray but is a massive help if you can manage it.  

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • Spray bottle
  • Fill with vinegar
  • Add 10-15 drops of essential oils
  • Shake before each use

Combine vinegar and essential oils in a spray bottle. Spray vinegar mixture inside bowl and around toilet. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Sprinkle baking soda inside toilet bowl and scrub inside of bowl with a toilet brush. The Bi-carb soda gives a bit of abrasion to remove any hard to remove stains.

You can use the all over purpose cleaner (Version 1) or the above recipe spray to clean the outside and seat of the toilet. 

Disinfectant Spray (Non-scented)

  • Spray bottle (you can use one of the small travel spray bottles mentioned above)
  • ½ water
  • ½ rubbing alcohol

A great spray for disinfecting surface around the home such as bench tops, door handles or cupboard handles and for cleaning your toilet brush.

Disinfectant Spray (Scented)

  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Tea-tree or Lavender essential oils (10-15 drops or a blend of each)
  • Spray bottle

For those who love a nice smelling home this second disinfectant spray not only leaves your home free of germs, but with a lovely calming scent. Tea-tree and lavender essential oils can be used for their antibacterial properties or blended with other favourite scents you have.  

Do you have a favourite home-made cleaning recipe? Please comment below with anything that you love to use in your home.