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From Little Things Big Things Grow

As the song says “from little things big things grow”. I kinda already knew it and I teach it in my classes every week, especially in relation to saving. However, it hit home last week when we rocked into the bank with this inconspicuous bucket of small change. Granted, it was heavy.  All silver, 20c, 10c and 5c only.  All the good coins had been spent a long, long time ago.

How much is this bucket of coins worth?

How much is this bucket of coins worth?

It doesn’t look like much does it?  How much do you think it was worth? On the way to the bank the hubster and I speculated about how much we thought it was worth. We both concluded that it would only probably add up to $20 or so. In our view $35 was the absolute max.  I was so confident in my prediction that I stupidly said to Miss Money that she could have the money to spend on school supplies as she embarks on her first year of primary school in a couple of days.

Into the coin machine they go......

Into the coin machine they go……

How wrong we all were!! As we poured the money into the counting machine it became abundantly clear that we were way off. In fact the 20c pieces in the green bag on their own were worth $40!!!!! We quickly passed $60, then $80, then the grand total……….

The grand total

The grand total!!!! $133.30!!!

Yep, you read it correctly, $133.30!!!!!!!!!! Insane!!!!! Who knew that a pile of small coins could be worth that much!!! Of course I had to do a mummy dodgy on the promise of school supplies and gave her $26 instead…… she was so excited by the process she didn’t even notice!!! Whew!!! So when saving seems too hard, why not start with those 5c and 10c pieces – they really add up!!!

Do you save small change? Have you ever been surprised by how much it turned out to be?

If you liked this post you might also like,

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How To Pay Off your Mortgage Faster

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How To Create a Budget

30/01/2016 8 comments
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Unusual Ways To Save Money

As most of you know I have a part time job teaching social workers about money so they can then help their clients.  It is a fantastic job for someone like me who loves talking and writing about money!  I love teaching the course because every time without fail I learn something new from my class that I can then think about using in my life or share with you all.  What I find fascinating about personal finance is that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ answer or only one way to achieve a goal, there are different ways that suit different people.  Believe it or not some of the most diverse answers come when we talk about different ways to save money….. so here are some of the most unusual ones I have heard lately.

  1. Cold Hard!
    Yep – you read it correctly when I asked one of my classes the other day how they saved money one lady piped up and said “I have cold hard!”…. “er pardon” was my reply.  I certainly hadn’t heard that one before and my mind boggled as to what that could be!  As she went on to explain that she saves her money as soon as she gets paid putting a set amount of cash in a plastic zip lock bag and putting it in her freezer!!!!  Between the meat and the peas apparently!!!!  She also went on to explain that putting the money into her freezer means that she won’t touch it, whereas if it is in a bank account she will.  She has used this strategy to save for a solar hot water system and is currently saving for a cruise!!!  Obviously this one is not great if you get robbed and the robbers are hungry!!!  But still, I was impressed with her ingenuity!
  2. Coke bottle anyone?
    Apparently an empty 600ml bottle of Coke can hold close to $800 worth of coins, according to one guy from my class.  It is often touted on the internet to be $1,000 but my participants claim that is not true and it is more like $800 (what?! something on the internet that is not true!!!).  Being a closet Coke drinker I am keen to give this one a go myself.  I think it is a great way to save for Christmas!!!
  3. Don’t claim the tax free threshold
    When you get a job, you fill in a form which asks whether you want to claim the tax free threshold.  Australian residents for tax purposes are entitled to an $18,200 tax free threshold  If you select ‘no’ on the ATO form and don’t claim the tax free threshold, you are taxed on that first $18,200. It means you are paying tax on a sum of money, at your regular tax rate, even though you don’t need to.  As a result you will overpay tax and get a tax refund at the end of the financial year.
  4. Over-pay your rent
    This is another popular one especially to pay for Christmas.  Often paying more on your rent means you can have a month off at the end of the year to pay for Christmas.

Saving is a really individual thing, but when you get something that works for you – stick with it.

What is your unusual saving tip?

If you liked this post you might also like:

Home & Contents Insurance: How Do You Know If You Have Enough?

Should I Fix My Mortgage Rate?

How To Use An Offset Account To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

How To Make Your Savings Work Harder


If you would like to read more from me don’t forget to sign up to my weekly email using the form below:


The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice. Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

24/07/2015 5 comments
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Save holiday USA

You might have been wondering why things have been a little quiet on the Money Mummy post front over the last few weeks.  Well, the Money Mummy clan have been having a holiday in United States of America!!!  We spent most of our time in California including a trip to Disneyland which we all LOVED, but also popped over to New York and Washington to check them out and experience what it is like to be a tourist in minus 12 degrees!!!!! Yes we were there for New York’s coldest day in 50 years and it was FREEZING!!!  Mind you, our daughter loved the snow!  I have to hand it to the Americans you think that you know them because we see their TV, movies and their news but it is a far more diverse and interesting country than I gave them credit for and we had an absolutely fantastic time there.

-12 degrees!!!  Do I look cold to you?

-12 degrees!!! Do I look cold to you?


So if you are thinking of heading over to the US here are some of the ways we made our trip happen without breaking the bank (too much) 🙂 .

  1. Go in winter

    Winter?  What winter?  We spent most of our time in California where we discovered their reputation for amazing weather was well deserved.  Most days were around 23-25 degrees and we didn’t have any rain at all.  Ok, granted that California currently has a drought which is not great, but it did mean that weather wise we had an amazing trip.  Also the best part about travelling in winter was the lack of queues when you go to the attractions.  We spent four days in Disneyland and the most amount of time we spent in a queue was to meet Elsa and Anna from Frozen and even then it was only a 45 minute wait!!!  For most of the rides we either walked straight on or waited for a maximum of 10 minutes!!  It was fantastic.

    Little Miss Money meets the 'real' Elsa and Anna

    Little Miss Money meets the ‘real’ Elsa and Anna

  2. Use a travel agent

    We used a travel agent for a decent chunk of our travel.  He saved us a fair bit of money by convincing us to stay in a couple of hotels that we would have never picked ourselves and an airline we generally wouldn’t fly.  We stayed at the Hyatt Orange County when visiting Disneyland which got us a two bedroom suite for approximately $200 per night (my sister was staying with us) as opposed to $350 per night per room for the cheapest Disney hotel.  He also got us a great deal on “Bertha” our rent a car which I could never have got on my own.

    'Bertha' and the family at one of our many unusual road side stops

    ‘Bertha’ and the family at one of our many unusual road side stops

  3. Don’t use a travel agent

    Ok so I just contradicted myself but for some of the things we found it was far cheaper to book them ourselves.  The agent wanted to charge us $130 Australian dollars for a car to take us from the airport to our hotel.  We decided to catch a cab ourselves and it cost us about $60 Australian dollars.  We also used trip advisor to find some offbeat hotels which had kitchen facilities which saved us the cost of quite a few burger meal deals :-).

  4. Don’t be afraid to stay at cheaper hotels

    We found the standard of hotels to be pretty good in the US and there was a lot of choice.  In Las Vegas we stayed at the Excalibur which looks like a castle for $65 Australian dollars per night.  If you are looking for luxury this certainly wasn’t  it  but it was a nice enough place to sleep and my daughter loved it!!!  Given Las Vegas is not the most kid friendly destination, though it was better than we thought, certainly Excalibur was probably one of the most kid friendly hotels there.

    Life in a castle in Las Vegas!

    Life in a castle in Las Vegas!

  5. Hire a car and drive

    “What!!!  Don’t they drive on the other side of the road????”  I hear you say.  Yes it is a little scary to start off but driving around the US is awesome.  You get to see and do things that you would never get to otherwise.  The roads are amazingly well made compared to ours and we found the drivers pretty polite, contrary to what you might think 🙂 .  We picked up “Bertha” our hire car from San Diego and took her all the way around to San Francisco over 14 days.  She cost around $45 per day and we ended up taking her something like 3,200kms.  Petrol is cheap in the US as well.  We think we paid around $2.50 per gallon generally speaking so that is about $0.80 cents per litre in Australian dollars!!!!!  Mind you we brought our GPS from Australia and downloaded US maps so that was a big stress reliever in terms of getting us from A to B!!!!  It turned out to be a lot cheaper than flying for the three of us and it meant we got to see a lot more of the “real” America.

  6. Stay out of the Disney Stores with your 4 year old….

    Oh I had an epic fail here, mind you all the merchandise is substantially cheaper than in Australia, even accounting for the falling Australian Dollar while we were there 🙂

    Warning: Disney stores are BAD for the budget!!

    Warning: Disney stores are BAD for the budget!!

If you are thinking about going to the US I would highly recommend it.  We are going to be saving hard for the next few years to try and go again.  Next time we might try Disney World in Florida!  It is always good to have a goal!!  Now back to the real world!!!

Have you been to the US?  What did you think?

If you liked this you might also like:

15 Ways To Save Money In 2015

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Websites That Will Make Or Save You Money

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You Are A Parent

If you would like to read more from me in 2015 don’t forget to sign up to my weekly email using the form below:


The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

29/03/2015 10 comments
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Ways To Save Money

As most of you know my day job is to teach social workers about money so that they can then help their clients with their financial issues.  A big part of the course is exchanging ideas on ways to save money.  I love to hear everyone’s tips for saving money and it is one of my most favourite parts of the course.  So, given I have heard heaps of ways to save money, I decided to compile all the best ones into this list.  I am not suggesting you do all of the things on the list, but take a look and use the ideas that make sense to you.

  • Use a separate bank account that is hard to access.
  • Direct debit a set amount into your savings account as soon as you get paid.
  • Get your employer to directly put part of your pay into your hard to access savings account so you never see it.
  • Never spend a gold coin. As soon as you get one put it into a money box that you need to a can opener to open. This really adds up over a year.
  • Never spend a $5 note. Again put it into a money box that you need a can opener to open and be surprised how much it adds up to by the end of the year.
  • The night before you get paid clear out all the notes from your wallet and put them in a money box.
  • When you get paid put any excess money you have left in your account directly into your savings account.
  • If you use the internet to access your savings account try changing the password to your savings goal – such as “Holiday to Thailand” or “House deposit” so that every time you access the account you are reminded as to why you are saving the money in the first place.
  • Check your spending leaks. A spending leak is something that you do regularly which you could do differently to save money.  For example, on in my case I calculated I could save $2,184 per year simply by bringing my lunch to work and making my own hot chocolate in the office.  A huge figure, especially given I only work 3 days per week!!  To find out more click
  • Track your spending by either writing all your spending down on a piece of paper or using MoneySmarts free TrackMySpend app. This will let you know where your money is going and indicate places where you can cut costs.
  • Buy vouchers with excess cash in your wallet when you are at the supermarket. Stash them somewhere safe and see how they add up over a year. Just watch the expiry dates.
  • Shop from your cupboard and spend only $21 for the week on groceries. If you are anything like me then you have enough food in your cupboards to last quite some time!! Sometimes I think I am a ‘doomsday prepper’, without the weapons or the underground shelter, but on the food front we will be fine in an emergency!!! Shopping from your cupboard means you make recipes for a week from what you already have then use a small amount of money, say $21, to by the extras you require.  Then you put any money that you would have spent for the week on groceries into your savings account or money box.
  • Sell things and put the money directly into your savings account. I recently raised $440 buying selling clothes and toys that my daughter no longer used. It was really easy!  To read more about it please click here.
  • Stash any windfalls you might have into a hard to access savings account before you have a chance to spend it! Maybe your tax refund?
  • Pay excess on your mortgage, if you have one, then use a redraw to get it back if you need it. This will not only save you interest on your loan but shave years off your mortgage, meaning you will be owning your own home sooner.

There are heaps of different ways to save money.  You might think these are just little things but I promise you it is these little things that make the difference.  I had a single mum in my class who saved every $5 note over a year and took her kids on a ski weekend with $840 in $5 notes.  So give the tips that you think suit you a try and you might be surprised how much you have by the end of 2015!!

If you liked this you might also like:

Simple Savings Ideas That Absolutely Everyone Can Use

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save Money

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You Are A Parent



The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

11/12/2014 17 comments
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how to win free stuff

This post is a guest from my great friend Lisa-Marie from The Retro Mumma.  I am constantly in awe of Lisa Marie’s ability to win the best free stuff.  She is always winning the kind of stuff that you really want.  So she has popped over to Money Mummy to share her secrets with all of us. Take it away Lisa Marie!

How To Win Free Stuff!

Today I was pampered and treated to a beautiful cut & blow dry from Yeah Hair Baby in Marrickville.

What was even more fabulous was that it was FREE!

Some people say that I was born with a 4 leaf clover, but I don’t believe that – it just comes down to the old saying of ” you have gotta be in it to win it”.

So how did I win this beauty treatment? Well I won it through a Facebook promotion on the Yeah Hair Baby Facebook page. It was pretty simple. To enter all you had to do was upload your worst hair style. Below is mine – I just happen to be sporting an ultra cool skunk stripe and I am standing next to Mel Gibson. (I am also dressed in nautical themed clothing because I was working on a boat – ok!!) Notice how this photo is so old that its an actual photograph and not digital….. a 2001 blast from the past!

mel gibson

So how did all this Free Stuff happen to come my way? You’ve probably heard of the term “Compers” or “Comping”, well these are people who are serious about entering competitions.

Well, here are my 4 top ways of winning stuff:

The Radio:

It was probably about 5 years ago now, every morning I would be listening to the radio. Jonsey & Amanda on WSFM to be exact. At 6am every morning, they had a game called the magnificent 7 where listeners call through and try and answer the 7 questions of the day. The caller who answers the 7th question correctly wins their daily prize. I have lost count of the times that I have been the person to answer the last question correctly. A little bit of luck and knowledge is required. They also have segments where you can call through with a funny stories too.

Last year a good friend of mine won tickets through Nova to see Beyonce in the USA. All she did was phone the station when Beyonces’ song came on. She had 2 options. guaranteed tickets to her Sydney concert OR forfeit those tickets and go into the draw for the USA trip. There were only 6 other contenders, so she went into the draw and won! We were so excited, jumping up and down screaming with tears running down our faces!

A few (not all ) of the prizes I have won to date are : Concert tickets to the B52’s (ticked them off my bucket list!), tickets to The Village People, a table for four at the Masterchef Pop up restaurant, meet & greet with the cast of The Deadliest Catch, tickets to Tim Finns’ intimate record release, car shows, rodeos, other concerts, dinner at various beautiful restaurants, entry to Wings over Illawarra Air Show, a $500 digital radio, gift cards, countless dvd’s and cds.

Whilst I have won lots of prizes, I also share them around. Before I had kids, I always gave away tickets I’d won to family events. I believe in prize karma- the more I’ve shared, the more I win!

My Top Tips: Less people listen to the radio early in the morning, so it is easier to get through. I always have the radio station number in my phone on speed dial!

I ran into Amanda Keller at The Village People

I ran into Amanda Keller at The Village People

b52s collage

Up close with Tim Finn at his Album Launch

Up close with Tim Finn at his Album Launch

My Husband met the cast of The Deadliest Catch

My Husband met the cast of The Deadliest Catch

I won a table for 4 at the Master Chef Sold Out pop up restaurant

I won a table for 4 at the Master Chef Sold Out pop up restaurant

Wings Over Illarwarra Air Show was a dream come true for my little boy

Wings Over Illarwarra Air Show was a dream come true for my little boy


Facebook is an awesome way to follow and engage with your favourite brands. Not only can you follow their current seasons & sales, quite often they run competitions for their followers too. Through Facebook I have won movie tickets from Dendy Cinemas to several premiers, I have won vouchers from some of my favourite local stores like Lush Arena in Marrickville, beauty treatments , kegs of beer from Tap King and lots of dinners! My most favourite Facebook win was from Little Ruby Photography . This was a competition drawn randomly as a part of a mother’s day promotion and this was very special as it was my first mothers day! Capturing those special memories are priceless.

My Top Tips: Like all your favourite brands and follow them keeping an eye out for promotions and competitions. Facebook competitions will either be drawn randomly once you’ve shared their competition on your page with your friends, Sometimes competitions will require you to use skill to answer a question creatively or other times the competition may involve submitting a photo as a competition entry and then getting people to like your entry.

This was a Mothers Day Prize from Little Ruby Photography

This was a Mothers Day Prize from Little Ruby Photography


Instagram is a great way to follow your favourite brands and get them to notice you with the simple power of a hash tag #. It’s also a great way to get creative with photography. My favourite local pub The Henson in Marrickville runs a weekly Instagram comp where they award $50 worth of Henson dollars to be used in house. The biggest prize I have won via Instagram was through Adriano Zumbo. Last mothers day they had an instagram competition where you had to upload a photo to Instagram and then use their special hash tag. Those photos all filtered through to a tv in their store for the month of May. They chose the 3 winners, in which I won first prize which was a $1999 Kenwood cooking chef appliance.


Shopping Centres

Do yourself a favour and sign up to your local shopping centre newsletter, Facebook page and Instagram. Quite often they have mini give aways in store with their local retailers. Through Broadway shopping centre I won movie tickets and a $250 voucher for coming 3rd place in an instagram valentines day promotion they were running. A month ago I also won $100 worth of gift cards for commenting on a Facebook post asking us for our funniest misheard song lyric. Marrickville Metro is a small centre in Sydneys inner west – last week our family went to the zoo thanks to a family pass I won through one of their centre promos (just collecting receipts). I’ve also won cooking books and vouchers from them too.

My top tips: Sign up to your local shopping centres, follow their Facebook pages & Instagram. The smaller the centres, sometimes the better chances of winning. I know that when I first started following Marrickville Metro and Broadway they had less than 1000 fans on Facebook.



So that’s just some of the stuff I have won and how I won it! They may not be major prizes, but we have had a lot of fun experiences along the way!

Whats the best prize you’ve ever won? Do you have any tips?

If you want to read more from Lisa Marie pop over to her blog The Retro Mumma or like her on Facebook here!

If you liked this post you might like to try:

5 Websites That Will Make Or Save You Money

How To Create A Budget

5 Simple Savings Ideas That Everyone Can Use

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

14/10/2014 10 comments
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Simple savings tips

This post is brought to you by ASIC’s MoneySmart website

Most people think that in order to save money you have to do some really grand gesture, like only soup for dinner for the rest of your existence, but saving money does not have to be that difficult.  In fact, I believe that when it comes to saving, it is the small things that you do every day that really matter.  So here are five of my most favourite simple savings ideas that absolutely everyone can use in their everyday lives.

  1. Choose a goal and create a plan

    You need to have a savings goal.  Without a goal it is easy to splurge money on a whim.  Goals give you focus.  Everybody has different savings goals.  Choose yours, whether it be a holiday, buying your dream home or saving for your child’s education.  You don’t have to have just one goal, you can have several.  Short term, long term, big or small and you can work on them all at once if you choose.  However, the key to doing this is to have a plan.  As they say ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’.  So your plan should have some concrete information including how much you need to save for your goal, when you need it by and what you are going to change to make it happen.  If you want an easy way to set up your savings plan then you should consider using TrackMyGOALS, which is a great new free app from ASIC’s MoneySmart website.  It helps you to set, plan, track and manage savings goals and helps you visualise your progress towards achieving your goals.  Best of all it is completely free.  Click here to check it out.

  2. Track your spending

    Now you have your goal and your plan you need to look at what you are going to do differently to achieve it.  Ever wondered where your money is really going?  Tracking your spending is the easiest way to tell.  This can be as simple as keeping a piece of paper in your handbag and noting down every time you spend.  Alternatively, if you have a smart phone MoneySmart have an awesome free app called TrackMySPEND, with a few easy taps you can record every time you spend!  It is easy to use, gives you totals on where your spending is at and even better it is free!!  Click here to check out the TrackMySPEND app.  I challenge you to track your spending initially for a week, then extend it to a month.  It is huge eye opener and will alert you to exactly where your money is going and what you could change to reach your saving goal.

  3. Check your spending leaks

    Checking your spending leaks can also help you easily identify places where you can easily save money.  All you have to do is to think of two things that you spend money on regularly, be it daily, weekly or monthly.  It could be a daily takeaway coffee, or weekly takeaway or monthly magazine subscriptions.  Next add up how much one of these things cost you over a month, then a year.  Now, think about how you could do that spending differently – be it bringing your lunch to work or cutting down from a large coffee to a smaller one, or buying from a cheaper supplier.  Remember, doing things differently does not have to mean that you cut things out entirely, unless you are highly motivated to do so!!  🙂 See how much this new way of doing things would cost you over a month and then a year.  Now, all you have to do is look at the difference between the two figures, how much it cost you per year using your old way versus the cost of the new way.  This is how much you could save by changing your spending behavior.  In my case I calculated I could save $2,184 simply by bringing my lunch to work and making my own hot chocolate in the office.  A huge figure, especially given I only work 3 days per week!!

  4. Draw yourself up a budget

    Creating a budget is not as difficult as you think.  It doesn’t have to be scary and you certainly do not have to pay someone to do it for you.  There are heaps of fab free resources out there to help you create your budget.  I use the free budget planner from the MoneySmart Website.  Click here to check out their planner and click here to get the low down on exactly what I did to create my budget.  I promise you it is seriously easy and makes achieving your savings goals so much simpler.

  5. Pay yourself first

    This is considered to be one of the BEST simple savings strategies and is all about putting you and your savings first.  Think of it this way, imagine yourself standing behind a door and you have just got paid.  “Woot, I am rich!” I hear you say.  Then you fling open the door and there are a stack of people standing in the queue each with signs relating to different bills you have to pay – rent/mortgage, groceries, electricity bill, health insurance etc etc, but right down the back there is someone holding a sign that says ‘savings’.  Usually by the time you have worked your way through the queue of bills there is nothing left for the poor guy called savings.  Pay yourself first is all about putting savings first, bringing the savings guy from the back of the queue to the front.  This means you put your savings away first thing when you are paid, then you figure out how to pay the rest of the bills and living costs after that.  This principle works on the basic truth for most of us, that whatever we have left over we will make last until the next pay day.  (Obviously this strategy is less useful if you are on a very low income and you need to be realistic in your savings amount).

As you can see, saving doesn’t have to be difficult.  I challenge you to apply some of these simple savings ideas to your daily life and see how the little things you do turn into big things over a month then a year.  Happy saving! 🙂

What is your favourite simple savings idea?

If you liked this post you might also like,

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How To Pay Off your Mortgage Faster

5 Websites That Will Help You Make or Save Money

How To Create a Budget

This post was sponsored by ASIC’s MoneySmart website

MoneySmart provides free and impartial information and guidance about all aspects of personal finance to help Australians make informed financial decisions.   Visit them at moneysmart.gov.au.

06/10/2014 26 comments
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Reduce Average Electricity Bill

Last year I wrote about my horror at receiving a $1400 electricity bill for winter!  I realise that my house is all electric but still the shock prompted me to search out a better deal.  A couple of weeks ago I received my winter electricity bill for this year.  I am proud to report that my winter electricity bill was down 28% from last year and is now around $1000.  Although a lot better than last year, $1000 still seems like a lot to me for a small house with 3 people living in it.  Surely there is more we can do?  So here are a list of some of the things we are going to implement in our household to cut our average electricity bill even further.

  1. Finish our move to energy efficient light bulbs

    We still have quite a few old light bulbs in our house. A move to energy efficient light bulbs can cut your lighting bill in half, so we are going to make an effort to get all the old bulbs replaced now.

  2. Ban the clothes dryer

    Clothes dryers chew up power. We did use it less over winter than normal but now it is spring it is time for it to ban it unless we are completely desperate.

  3. No more stand-by power

    I know someone who cut $200 off their power bill simply by turning things off at the power point. We are going to join them!  Think of the amount of things using standby power in your house right now – the kettle, toaster, microwave, TV…. Why waste money on something that is not being used?

  4. Turn off our phone rechargers when they are not being used

    I am seriously guilty of this!!! Phone rechargers still use power even if you are not using them but they are plugged in!  It might be a small one but if it is going to save us some cash then we are in!!

  5. Turn off the light when we leave a room

    We aren’t too bad at this one but there is more we can do. We are also pretty guilty of leaving our bathroom fan on, sometimes all day!  We walk out of the house and forget to turn it off.  No excuses this has to change.

  6. Use the microwave more

    Microwaves are more efficient than ovens and use around half the electricity!

  7. Only use the dishwasher when it is a full load

    Ok we are pretty good at this. The hubby is in charge of the dishes and let’s just say he likes to let them build up (a lot).  I guess the advantage of this strategy is that it is always a full load!!!

  8. Washing our clothes in cold water

    Making this move could save us around $115 per year. We are also going to focus more on choosing the shortest appropriate washing cycle.  Though with a messy four year old the ‘heavy duty’ cycle often gets a whipping in our house!!!

  9. Check our fridge

    The fridge is one of the most expensive appliances in the house as it is always on. Ours is starting to get on and is about 10 years old.  It is time to check all the seals around the doors and make sure the cold is not escaping.  Apparently the fridge temperature should be 4 or 5 degrees and your freezer temperature between minus 15 and 18 degrees, so we are going to check this as well.

  10. Shut the door!!!!

    No point in cooling or heating rooms or cooling rooms that are not being used! I do often find myself saying “Shut the door! Do you live in a tent?”  Certainly there is more work that can be done here!

So that is our plan.  I hope to shave at least another $200 off our electricity bill by being more energy efficient.  Not only is it good for our finances and the environment as well!  Certainly changing supplier has made a big impact to our electricity bill (click here to read how I did it) but I think it is time to do more!!  I look forward to reporting back on how we went this time next year!!!

What is your tip for cutting our electricity bill?

If you liked this you might also like:

How I saved big on my electricity bill

5 Websites That Will Make Or Save You Money

How To Create A Budget

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

25/09/2014 15 comments
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ATM Fees

Ok, if I was to list my 5 pet peeves it would go something like this:

  1. Dirty glasses (yes I have four eyes and any spec on my glasses drives me crazy)
  2. Dirty car windscreens (I think this might be related to the glasses thing)
  3. Coriander (yes, who knew I could find it so offensive?)
  4. ATM Fees
  5. Scam artists and those who rip others off

Yep, they don’t call me The Money Lady for nothing.  ATM fees rank pretty highly on my list of things that give me the sh*ts!  I really can’t understand why I have to pay to access my own money and particularly why using an ATM which is not my bank’s can cost me anywhere between $2 and $3.50.  A cost that is totally out of line with the actual cost of the electronic transaction to my bank!!!!  Though I can see why the banks like ATM fees, apparently in the year to the end of April Australians paid $627 million in ‘foreign’ ATM fees. (A foreign ATM is any machine not operated by your bank).

The other thing I hate about ATM fees is how they add up without you noticing.  Just one transaction a week at a ‘foreign’ ATM at $2.50 can cost you $130 per year!!!!  So here are some ideas of how you can make sure you never pay ATM fees ever again….

(1)    Know Your Bank Account

Make sure you understand how your bank account works and which ATMs you can access for free.  Some banks only let you use your own bank’s ATMs, other banks may allow you to use some ‘foreign’ ATMS for free but not others.  On my account I can only use my own bank’s ATMs for free, anywhere else and I will be pinged.

(2)    Use an ATM Finder App

If you have a smart phone there are several apps that can tell you where your nearest ATM is.  I use the one issued by my bank.  So before you crack a foreign ATM use an app as, you never know, a free ATM might be just around the corner.

(3)    Withdraw Extra Cash

When you find a fee free ATM withdraw more money than you need so you have some spare cash.  This can work for some people but if you are the type that will spend the lot, then this tip is best avoided!!!

(4)    Use EFTPOS And Get Cash Out

When you are buying something on EFTPOS take out some extra cash.  EFTPOS is free and most retailers are happy to give you the extra cash.  Just ask.

(5)    Use Your Local Supermarket/Retailer as an ATM

This is my favourite strategy and the one I use most at the moment.  Your local Woolies and Coles will give you cash and you don’t even have to buy a thing.  Just rock up to the ciggy counter and they are happy to give you cash from your account.  Or even better, use the self-serve machines.  I have heard the petrol stations aligned with the big retailers will also give you cash out. Just ask.  We have been using our local Woolies as an ATM for quite a while now as there is no ATM for my bank close to where I live or work.  So this strategy has saved us a stack of ATM fees.

The last tip I have is if you are really stuck and have no other choice but to use a ‘foreign’ ATM use one from one of the ‘Big Four’, that is ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth or National Australia Bank as at the moment they will only charge you $2 for the privilege.  If you use a non bank branded ATM such as Cashcard, CashConnect and Direct Cash ATMs they will charge you more.  So watch out!

If you liked this post, try:

How much your credit card debt is really costing you

5 websites that will make or save you money

How to pay off your mortgage faster

Does shopping at Aldi save you money?


The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

06/08/2014 13 comments
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Save For Child's Education

Education is expensive.  Even if you have no intention of sending your child to a private school, the costs associated with your local public school soon add up.  There are books, shoes, uniforms, excursions and after school activities.  The costs seem endless.   This is not even to start thinking about costs of higher education should they choose to go on to university or TAFE and you want to help them out.  So how do you afford to pay for it all?

The keys to success to save for your child’s education is to start as early as you can and save regularly.  Time and having a regular savings plan help to harness the most powerful wealth building tool ever: compound interest.  Compound interest is when you earn interest on top of your interest.  When you save or invest your money earns interest, so you then earn interest on your original investment amount and also on the interest you have already earned.  This makes your money work for you and helps to turn a little bit of money into a lot over time.

Next you need to set your goal.  Figure out how much you would like to save and how much time you have to do it in.  From there you break it down into a much smaller weekly, fortnightly or monthly savings goal.  So maybe your savings goal is $10 per week, so you have $1040 dollars to deal with extra expenses when you child goes to school in 2016.  Breaking a large goal into a small regular goal makes turns something large and daunting into something far more manageable.

To supercharge your savings think about adding any windfalls you might receive to your education fund, for example tax refunds.  Or you could look into charitable schemes such as Saver Plus, which matches your savings for your or your child’s education.  You need a healthcare card and a regular income.  Click here to find out if you meet the criteria.

It also pays to be aware of whose name you put the investment in.  Prohibitive tax rates can apply to investments in your child’s name in certain circumstances, so it pays to think about it.  Click here to find out more.

Once you have saved the money, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to how you invest it.  The answer is different for each individual family but here are some of the options:

(1)    Pay down your home loan and redraw

Using this strategy you make extra repayments on your mortgage or offset account then withdraw the money when it is time to pay for the costs.  Most people on variable mortgage rates are paying about 5.5% per year, so the money put into the mortgage is earning a effective tax free return of 5.5%, without taking any risk. The key with this one is it takes discipline as the money saved is part of a broader pool, so you have to make sure you don’t spend it on anything else.   To read more about this strategy please click here.

(2)    Invest in cash

This strategy doesn’t always give you the highest return but it relatively risk free.  Find an online fee free account with a high interest rate and direct debit in your regular savings amount.  Have the direct debit come straight out of your pay so you ‘pay yourself first’ and watch the savings build.  If you are anything like me, make sure the account has limited access so that temptation is minimized J  Watch out for ‘bonus rates’, where an account has a high rate of interest for 3 or 6 months then reverts to a low rate.  There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of these rates and then moving if there is a better offer.  Also watch out for term deposits that are paying good rates if you are happy to lock away your savings for a while.  The problem with this strategy right now is that interest rates are low, so returns are not very good, and with inflation starting to rise your return after accounting for inflation (rising prices)  is not very good.  Click here to get some extra tips on how to get the best savings account.

(3)    Invest in higher risk assets such as property or shares.

The advantage of investing your child’s education savings in these types of investments is that they generally have higher returns over time than just investing in cash.  The disadvantage of investing in these types of investments is that they are higher risk.  This means the return you might get in any one year might vary dramatically, from big gains to big losses, but over time you should make more money than cash.  I will be writing a post with more detail on the pros and cons of on investing in shares in the coming weeks.

(4)     Investment bonds

An investment bond is a tax structure through which investments are held.  They can be started with as little as $1000 and allow you to invest small amounts regularly into Australian and International shares.  They have several tax advantages, only 30% tax is paid on earnings (useful if you are in the highest tax paying bracket) and the capital gains are tax free if they are held for longer than 10 years and the proceeds are used for educational purposes.  They are offered by life insurers and friendly societies, and investors can choose from a range of underlying investment options ie. mixes of cash, bonds, shares etc.

(5)    Education funds

Education funds are special funds to help you save for your kid’s education.  There are some tax benefits around this type of investment but there are also plenty of rules, so be wary and make sure you read all the fine print.  For example what happens to your investment should your child choose not to go to university?  Or your circumstances change?  Also, quite often fees on this type of investment are quite high, so make sure you compare it to all your other options and be very clear on all the fine print so you don’t get caught out.

Educating your child is a big responsibility.  The two keys to success are to start early and save regularly.  There are many different options for investing the money.  Which is right for you depends on many factors so make sure you get proper financial advice and read all the fine print before you decide.

If you liked this you might also like:

How To Create A Budget

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re A Parent

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

3 Things You Need To Know When Saving And Investing For Your Child

How I Saved On My Electricity Bill


The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.


30/01/2014 21 comments
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Kid's Birthday Party Save Money

If you choose to use the KISS principle anywhere in your life, you should absolutely use it when you are hosting a kids birthday party.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the KISS principle it stands for “Keep it simple, stupid!”  We applied this principle big time when it came to our daughter’s first and second birthdays.  We just grabbed a picnic blanket, a couple of roast chooks from up the road and headed down to our local park with a couple of friends.  Simple, low stress and oh so cheap.

This year, with Miss Money turning 3, she really wanted a proper birthday party.  So, with much trepidation we decided to give it a go.  Kids birthday parties are a bit like weddings, it is easy to get carried away and they can easily become black holes for cash.  So here are 6 ways we saved money whilst still giving our daughter a fun birthday bash.

  1. Use Electronic Invites

We live in 2013.  Even my mother has a Facebook account.  People don’t need a little bit of paper to know you are having a party.  In fact if you give me one, I will put it on the fridge,  little hands will take it down and it will be most likely lost.  Send me an electronic invite and I can check dates, times, locations as required and I will still be able to find it when I need it.  Easy and free!

  1. Share The Party With A Friend
The Birthday Girls

The Birthday Girls

This was undoubtedly the best decision we made when it came to having a kids party, we shared it with one of the wonderful women from my mother’s group and her gorgeous daughter.  It meant that not only did we share costs and the workload, it turned the preparation time into fun too!  We did a joint trip to Costco with our kids to pick up the supplies and at the party it was like having a magic fairy there with me, things just happened and I did not feel responsible for making every single decision.  At the party everything was shared, we just had two birthday cakes and everyone sang one song.  The girls loved it.

Fiona was a dream to work with.  I think that both of us would describe ourselves as relaxed, so that really helped.  We all had so much fun that we will probably do it all again next year!

  1. Ditch The Theme Or Choose A Simple One
Not much of a theme but everyone had a great time

Not much of a theme but everyone had a great time

I have to tell you up front I am not a huge fan of the theme.  I know some people love it but all I see is more hard work and cost!  It makes me laugh when you talk about having a kid’s party the first thing people ask you is “What is your theme?” Theme?  “Errrrr, my daughter is having a birthday theme”, is always my response.

If you really want to go down the theme route, then make sure you choose a simple one and don’t go overboard on it because it really does add to costs.  So what? Your plates and cups don’t match your theme?  The kids don’t care and they only end up in the bin anyway.  In the end we did go a theme for this party, it was pink as it is easy and the favourite colour of both girls.  We got pink table cloths, pink balloons and dressed them in pink.  That was pretty much the full extent of it!  Easy and cheap!

  1. Keep The Food Simple


Nothing like the old style party favourites

There was no high tea or dessert bar at our party.  It was all about sausage rolls and party pies (on sale $6 for 30 from Woolies), home made chocolate crackles and honey joys.  We went the token fruit platter but that is about as fancy as it got, and the strawberries were on sale for $1 per punnet!!!  Fiona made some awesome “spiders” out of chocolate, Nutella and Chang’s noodles!!!  They were delicious.  We were worried about not having enough food, but as it turned out we had tonnes.  The truth is that no one really eats much at these things as the kids are busy running around and the parents talking, so try not to over cater, it can be a money waster.  Mind you we did an epic fail on this part 🙂 and we were eating chocolate crackles and chips for many days afterwards!

  1. Keep The Activities Simple
A couple of simple activities kept everyone entertained

A couple of simple activities kept everyone entertained

In our local area we have a council run service called the Magic Yellow Bus.  They roll up to a local park and plonk out a range of activities for the kids and then everyone just plays.  We decided to model our party on this, just with cake!  So we just put out a table of homemade play dough with the play dough stuff we already owned, I threw half my kitchen utensils in the sand pit with a few buckets and we had a craft table with some cheap bits and pieces I had brought from Riot.  Luckily, Fiona owned a small jumping castle so that got a work out too!

We avoided organised activities like pass the parcel as we had heard this can be very political now days and there can be fights over who gets what.  Apparently every kid also has to get a prize!  It certainly wasn’t like that in the 70s!

We did do a piñata which was probably not very PC but it was heaps of fun.  However, if you choose to do this for your party here is a hot tip – don’t choose one with a character on it!  Apparently some kids get very distressed when they see Dora, Octonauts or Hi-5 been taken to with a stick!!  We went the very safe 3 shaped piñata!

  1. When Someone Says They Want To Help – Say “YES!”

People love to be involved in your party, it gives them what is known in the business world as “buy in”.  They wouldn’t offer if they weren’t genuine about helping you and as they say many hands make light work.  It helps to cut costs and reduce stress.  We had people bring in plates of food, fairy bread, dips, mini pizzas and even pick up food for us that we had pre-ordered.  As we had the party at a local family day care centre we had an army of volunteers help to set up and even more volunteers to clean up.  To them we own a huge “thank you” as without them we would probably still be there cleaning now 🙂

Overall the party was heaps of fun.  We kept it as simple as possible, which saved us money and lot’s of stress over things that in the end don’t really matter.  I was scared to host my first kids party but I really enjoyed it and maybe I might even be brave enough to do it again next year (with Fiona of course!) 🙂

If you liked this post you might also like to read:

 10 Easy Ways To Save Money

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re A Parent

How To Make Your Savings Work Harder

# The photos were all taken by the wonderfully talented Lisa Marie Craye of Ginger Snaps Photography.  Pop over and “like” her facebook page at Ginger Snaps Photography

* The Peppa Pig Cake was by the Jedi Master cake maker Patricia Kavvalos from Bake It Beautiful.  Pop over and “like” her facebook page at Bake It Beautiful

I am so lucky to be surrounded by such talented and generous friends 🙂

05/09/2013 27 comments
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