Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 1 of $21 challenge

After a stocktake of my kitchen, I have discovered an abundance of cooking and baking opportunities for the family meals this week, and I am excited.  I am making chilli con carne for dinner this evening, had all the ingredients except for the chilli powder, so had to spend some of my week's money on that.  I also had to get ham for my husband's lunches, and some bananas to try to feed my toddler for lunches - I found myself spending half of the allowed money today.  It will be a challenge, but I think I can do it.

I only have half a loaf of bread that will last tomorrow, but luckily I have a breadmaker, and will make loaves for the rest of the week.  I have all the required ingredients in my pantry.  I should make bread more often, as it saves about $2.50 a loaf, that is another way I can save that I had actually forgotten about.  It is very nice bread too, I make it with carraway seeds, just like the yummy stuff we buy at the supermarket.

Running out of time, bubs is calling me.

Tips for the day:
- Make your own bread if you can
- Make do with the food you already have in your pantry, you would be surprised what you can make for a nice meal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I did a big shop up this week at Costco, it was not really planned, though I did have a shopping list of needs and was able to meet most of those needs in bulk.  Of course that meant that my shop was $170 instead of about $40 because I bought in bulk, but it was cheaper in the long run.  I now find myself with 5kg of onions and 3kg of carrots that really need to be stored so they dont waste.  Both can be frozen and used later, so I dice or cut onions into wedges and store them in zip-lock bags, and julienne carrots and also store them in the bags, write the quantity and date on the bag and freeze them.  I have done that with many of my fresh ingredients, rather than throwing out vegetables that were not going to be used.  With these and other vegetables, I have been able to add them to stir fries, stews and when making baby foods or stock.

To make a vegetable stock, put into a large saucepan;

2 large brown onions, halved, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
4 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
cold water
6 fresh parsley stalks
10 whole black peppercorns
3 dried bay leaves

(I also add any other peels, leaves, heads of vegetables I have saved for extra oomph)  Bring to boil then simmer for an hour, then strain out solids and freeze in 1 cup and 1/2 cup portions in zip-lock bags or containers.  To make chicken or meat stock, add meaty bones into the water and bring to boil, then add the vegetables.

To make something for Baby Food, I chopped up some carrot, zucchini, celery, pumpkin, brocchili ends and added some chicken stock. Really any vegetables that complement each other would be fine for this.   I simmered them til soft then blended in the Bamix with some lentils for protein. 

With Christmas now less than a month away, and a number of large bills for our family, I have decided I am going to do the $21 challenge next week and use the rest of our grocery money for bills.  I'll let you know how I go.  For more information on the $21 challenge, refer to they have some great ideas.

Monday, November 16, 2009

And the money comes in...

I have managed to impress myself with the amount of money I have made from eBay this week.  I have made over $100 from junk I would have thrown out.  Problem is that it is now in my Paypal account and I'm charged for the honour of using it.  I try to tell people to pay direct into my bank account but I guess people want the protection Paypal offers.  Its only a dollar here or there, but that all adds up.  So its going to have to sit there until I can think of something to buy.  There are a few things we can use it for, with Christmas coming up, but I was wanting to put every spare cent into our mortgage, so that in not too many years time we can say "no more mortgage".  Oh well, I'll just have to try to be more efficient with the way I spend it.

I have an interview for temp work tomorrow, which is exciting.  I have taken maternity leave of 18 months so far and while it is a bit longer than standard maternity leave, as a contractor I have now role to go back to.  I am planning on working while my husband is off work over the Christmas break.  It will give him the chance to see how busy it is to be a full time parent, and give him a rest from work, while I bring in some money.  My husband is a sub-contractor so only gets paid when he is working.  I'll register with a few agencies to do admin work, and see what we can come up with.

I'm still busily sewing baby sleeping bags, I have four made now, and would like to have at least a dozen made within the next three weeks...plenty of work ahead of me.

-  Try to use cash/bank transfers when using ebay, as you get more for your dollar.
-  If your unwanted junk is in good condition, it will probably make you some extra cash if you sell it on ebay, or even have a garage sale.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cheap Chicken Meal

Today the weather is a bit cooler, very pleasant in fact, so I dont have a problem in cooking inside. Another trip to explore my options at the supermarket, and I found chicken breast on special. Its only a saving of $2 a kilo, but better than nothing, and considering I am not using a whole lot of chicken, I decided that it was an acceptable price. What is it with the price of meats in supermarkets these days?!

So tonight I am making chicken kebabs. I know I'm cheating, but I bought a tube of Morroccan herbs & spices for $3. I added diced chicken breast to some olive oil and the herbs & spices, and left it to marinate for the day. On the skewers, I will put the chicken, onion, red & green capsicum, then BBQ (could grill) it. I'll serve with some rice.

- Check meat section of the supermarket in the afternoons, as they are usually marked down in price at that time to make more room for fresh meat.
- Compare the price of chicken breast pre-packed in the meat section and then at the supermarket deli, most of the time the deli is cheaper, and you can choose the quantity of meat you want.
- If possible, buy your meat from the market, it is much much cheaper there.
- If you have the room, buy a 10kg bag of rice to use as a base to a lot of your meals, its healthy and much cheaper in bulk.
- If you can make metal skewers they can be washed and reused, rather than buying wooden disposable ones. Alternatively, look out for them in kitchen stores, if you eat kebabs etc a lot, it would be worth your while.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cheap BBQ dinner

Its really hot today in Melbourne and this morning I took my son for a walk to the local supermarket, looking for cheap inspiration for dinner this evening. Meat is so expensive in supermarkets, that I only buy it when it has been reduced. I found some mince meat for $2.20, marked down because it had to be used by today, grabbed a couple of onions and a zucchini with a total cost of $3.40. I have made rissoles by using 4 bread ends/crusts and making crumbs in the bamix, grated 1 carrot, 1 zucchini, finely chopped 1 onion and 1 egg and mixed with the mince. I will probably make up a basic salad of whatever I have in the fridge, lettuce, tomato, beetroot & a bit of cheese. Then I'll BBQ the rissoles and serve it with the salad.

Well it tasted great and I am going to get two meals out of those ingredients. The mixture made 11 rissoles, enough for two each for my husband & I, and one for our little boy, plus another batch stored in the freezer. I love it when there is enough to freeze, it halves the cost of a meal and halves the amount of work I have to do to prepare.

One thing that I believe saves a lot of money for meals is making everything from scratch, no pre-prepared sauces, pre-cut meats. I try to buy as close to natural as possible. That means my meals are based upon what is cheap and currently in season. Before I was married, I thought from scratch was cutting up chicken and adding a jar of chicken tonight and serving it with some fancy instant microwave rice. Now I make the sauces to go with my stirfries and curries etc and save heaps. Plus I know what is going in them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Daily Habits

I am trying to get into the daily habit of saving money, being frugal, recycling, whatever...letting nothing go to waste. And I want to try to work each day on bringing more money into the family. Right now I am cleaning out our cupboards as we have a lot of stuff we no longer need, and putting it on ebay.

My husband could accuse me of being a hoarder, but I dont believe I am, and what I am doing now is a testament to that. I am getting rid of stuff by selling it. I dont care if I get 99 cents for something, as long as my costs are covered, then its better off in my pocket and not cluttering up our apartment. My husband was throwing out 3 old windsurfing sails. They still work, and are in ok condition so I put them on ebay thinking if I got enough for a cup of coffee to treat myself I would be happy. They were just going to be taken to the tip. Well to date, the auction on each has risen above $10, so that is $30 at least that I am going to put towards paying off our mortgage.

I am also going to be selling some baby sleeping bags I have made, at a market on 12 December. So each day I am trying to get more made. I have a fair bit of fabric at home, so I am trying to use all of that up on various projects to sell. Just another way I am trying to bring money in. If they do not sell at the market, no problems, as I have been selling them on ebay. They cost me about $6 to make so I just need to make more than that. They take 4-5 hours to make and technically my time is valuable, but if I am able to make another $6-10 for each bag, I am content. Of course I want to be rich, but I should not do it at the expense of others. My purpose for making the sleeping bags is to provide an affordable alternative to what is in the shops. Most in stores sell from $25-90. A vast variation in prices. By offering them at such a low price, I believe I should get sales. Time will tell. You never get anywhere in business if you dont try out an idea.

Never Pay Full Price for Christmas

My husband seems to be the most amazing winner when it comes to bargains and I think it is because he looks for them. He looks through the bargain bins in the shops, goes to the clearance sales and keeps his eyes open. One day last year, we found our local KMart was renovating its store, so there were massive tables of bargains, not just half price, but 50% of the already reduced price, which had been reduced by 50%. We picked up all our Christmas presents. Our best buys were a bar fridge down from $360 to $90, a couple of BBQs from $99 to $40 and a couple of portable car/boat fridges from $180 down to $40. We were very pleased with ourselves. Our family thought we were being so generous when we gave gifts but in reality they hardly cost anything, because our motto is to never pay full price.

I am a believer of buying Christmas presents in advance and storing them. That way you can plan ahead and save money by getting the items on sale. There are a few websites you can look at to keep your eye on the sales. Lasoo has a whole heap of catalogues in one place. Also check out the factory outlets for bargains.

Below are a few other ways to save cash at Christmas:

- Buy Christmas paper at the post Christmas sales
- Buy something useful like tea towels or pillow slips, and use them to wrap the gifts with some festive ribbon.
- I save the paper from our unwrapped gifts and reuse that also.
- If you have kids, you can even use butcher's paper or old news paper, make some Christmas tree stencils and paint red & green Christmas trees or stars all over the paper. It gets the kids involved and out of mischief and is a cute personal touch.
- Make Christmas tree/star/holly shapes out of coloured card and stick them to the gift as a name card
- A Christmas card/newsletter can be emailed to your friends worldwide to save on postage
- If you are able, make gifts - sew a doona cover, make some PJs, build a doll house, take an amazing photo and have it framed.

These are just some ideas to get the wheels churning, I am sure opportunities and ideas are endless, I am always interested to hear what other people do to save money and manage to never pay full price for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Introduction - Mostly Saving Money and Making Money

Hello and welcome to my blog on mostly saving money and making money. Right now, I have no magic answers, I see this as an idea that may help me gain control my long term finances. I am married and stay at home looking after my 12 month old son, which as far as I am concerned is a great life. However it means that we must watch how we spend our money and only have a limited amount coming in on one income. We have just purchased our first house together, and are renting it out for a couple of years to help pay it off as we were not eligible for the first home buyers grant.

The goal of this site is to share ideas on how to save in every day life situations, and ideas on how to make extra money 'on the side'.  Tips to save money and earn money.  This could be a tool to help pay off all our debts in 5 years.

I will eventually have to go back to work, right now I am waiting for a place in childcare, but in the meantime, I am looking for ideas on how I can make money, working from home and how I can save money.

There are hundreds of ways of saving money, I am finding that opportunities are endless. I am hoping to describe each money saving method that I use and how effective it is. My two main creeds are: never pay full price and nothing goes to waste. These sometimes seem impossible, or simply a waste of time, but if every cent counts then we need to get started.

Join me on this journey and we will see where it takes us.