Tag Archive | One Year Off

How’s this for clean?

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut 8

Maybe it is because my eyes are not as good as they used to be or maybe it is truly amazing.

Look how clean my shower screen is:

You can hardly see it, right? If it wasn’t for the knob, you wouldn’t know there was a screen!

Wanna know my secret?

Inside I use cheap shampoo while I am having a shower. Shampoo takes off all the soap scum but it’s gentle on your skin. No worrying about bleach or caustic chemicals. And you can do it while you’re having a shower.

Money saving tip 8: use cheap shampoo to clean shower screens and bathroom basins. You’ll love the scent, sparkle, cost saving and gentleness on your skin.

Use the power of the sunlight

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut tip number 7

The Hills Hoist is among the greatest Aussie domestic appliances. It may not be the most attractive garden item, but I can’t stand it when TV garden make-over shows remove it; on both green and practicality principles. How will families dry their washing?

The sun dries my clothes for free; disinfects and removes stains on white clothes. I think clothes smell much nicer when line dried. Towels are crisper. Sheets straight from the line onto the bed are so crisp and fresh. All round it is a winner. So why would you pay to dry clothes and give up those benefits?

Money saving tip no 7: dry your clothes outside on the line.

We rarely use our clothes dryer. It was bought when we lived in the almost tropical north, 21 years ago when The Dreamer was born. We used cloth nappies, greenies that we were/are. Problem is, it rained for three months, non stop. Nothing dried. So we bought a clothes drier.

Back in much dryer Sydney, we only use our dryer when we have wet spells or, rarely, to finish off the clothes that have mainly dried on the line but are caught out in the dew when we work late.

Delicates and black clothes are dried hanging inside so they don’t perish or fade but for all others I would feel so guilty using the dryer. Paying for something I don’t need to; using energy and adding to carbon emissions for something that can be avoided.

What size scoop? 

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut tip number 6

You may have noticed that every Tuesday I have been posting my money saving tips. Our ways to save without impacting on our lifestyle are generally the lazy way out or the easy guide to saving. Little things that don’t take much effort. Things that can become routine and thus don’t involve much thought. They also tend to be environmentally beneficial, which is generally why I put them into place.

So onto my next tip.

I’m not really the world’s best housekeeper. I like a clean and tidy house, I just don’t have time nor inclination to clean much. 

Friends and family say I should get a cleaner. Been there, done that. One did an awesome job. But she got pregnant, damn her. (Only joking!) The others did really bodgy jobs. I resented paying for something not done properly. 

I’m just too tight-arsed now to pay for a cleaner. Even if I could be bothered finding one I was happy with, I’d rather spend my money on travel and our mortgage and clothes and our year off. 

I still sort of keep clean house, well not really, but I am quite fastidious with my clothes. So here’s one of my money saving tips around cleaning clothes. 

Again, this is not a new tip for this year on 80% of our income. Still, it’s one that allows us to save money where it doesn’t make an impact on our life but allows us to spend on things we like. And while it might be pennies, take care of the pennies and … blah blah blah you know the rest.

Tip number 6: Use less detergent than they say on the package to wash your clothes.  

You don’t need a full scoop to clean your clothes. I buy the top quality clothes detergent, mostly when it is on special. I don’t use pre-stain removers, except sometimes on white clothes. I don’t use a full scoop of detergent. Ever. Half a scoop is enough. Three-quarters if the clothes are really dirty.

Having an outstanding brand of washing machine (Miele), the best detergent and drying clothes in the sun means, in the main, stains and marks disappear. (Except for wool but that’s not going to change as you can’t bleach knitted clothes anyway.)

OK, we’re not mechanics or working in environments where are clothes getting really filthy. But then neither do most people. 

Really, you don’t need much of any product to clean anything – sinks, cupboards, door frames, floors. The water and rubbing gets rid of most dirt. Any detergent really does the same job. So buy fewer products all round and use less of it. Most liquid cleaning products are mainly water anyway. And scent. 

If you don’t believe me, here’s what Choice, the Australian Consumer Advocacy group says:

How much laundry detergent should I use?

Depending on which laundry detergent you choose, you may be able to use half (yes, half!) the recommended dose and still get a great wash, saving yourself money and giving the environment a bit of a break. In the past we’ve tested top performing laundry detergents and they performed just as well on all stains at half the recommended dose, while others performed well at half the dose on several types of stains. While we can’t test every dose variation, treat the dosing scoop or cap more like a polite suggestion and experiment with your detergent – you may find you can use a lot less than you think and still get a wash you are happy with.

I can’t stand it when clothes stink (and I use that word with full intent) stink, I say, of detergent scent. Doesn’t smell fresh to me. Smells overly perfumed with cheap artificial scent. If you can smell the detergent after the clothes have dried, you’re using too much. Use less. Dry in fresh air.

And this applies to all products for cleaning all things. Use less than the “recommended” amount on the packaging.

Save money. Save the environment. Chances are you will also get fewer headaches. 

Stay out of the shops.

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut tip number 5

I've been cheating with my last two tips. I have been doing them for years so they haven't really saved me extra money this year since we've faced the income cut while on the Deferred Salary Scheme. 

So in a similar light, half of my next tip is not new. But it is saving me money. 

Tip number five: stay out of the shopping centres and unsubscribe from online shopping emails. 

I don't get how shopping is now a family activity. Want something to do on a Sunday? Take your family to the shopping centre!

When did that become a thing?

Years ago I stopped "go shopping" to "look" for something as a regular weekend thing. Now I only go if I need to buy something.

We never took our kids to the shopping centre as something to do even when I did go to shopping centres. I mean why impose this on little kids and why impose little kids on others? We took our kids to parks and playgrounds and the harbour and the beach and the botanic gardens. Places they could run and chase and shout and burn off energy. But it didn't stop me going shopping alone or with friends.

This year I added the second half of the tip. I unsubscribed emails from online shopping retailers. I was deluding myself that these didn't affect me. 

Now I don't get tempted to buy things I didn't know I wanted before I got the email.  I am not tempted by deals which actually cost me money and which if I didn't get the email I would have saved money by not spending in the first place. 

So save money and increase your self-worth and lifestyle by not looking to go shopping for fun and to fill your time; by not feeding the desire for the new, for things you didn't really want in the first place; by not raising dissatisfaction with what you already have. 

I still buy things. I love clothes and shoes and bags. I still visit shops occasionally. But I am not shopping as an activity.

Fill your time with the want to do but say you have no time for.

I've been doing the things I like – reading, visiting friends, exploring our city, planning our next trip away, learning a language. 

Bingo: saving money and improving lifestyle!!!

Ditch the coffee

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut

I don't drink coffee. I hate most things to do with coffee drinking in cafes. 

I hate the noise. I so hate the noise!!! All that banging and steaming. It is so uncivilised and stress-inducing. My shoulders tighten at the thought. 

I also don't get why people want a daily drink, an expensive daily drink, from cardboard with a plastic lid. 

Coffee drinking is something Mr S and I have never succumbed too. So luckily we don't waste our money on it. We never started so we don't have to cut it. 

We do have our own weaknesses. We like drinking tea. It's much calmer. More civilised. An altogether more refined beverage. 

Yet we hardly ever buy it when out. Most people can't seem to make it properly. Especially baristas. They don't give tea the respect it deserves. Lukewarm water that doesn't let the tea draw. Incorrect storage of the tea so it absorbs the odour of coffee and herbs and herbal teas. I've even had milk served warm from being steamed by the coffee machine. Yuck!

But just as coffee drinkers like going out and grabbing a coffee, Mr S and I like drinking tea outdoors – in parks, in bushland, in gardens.

Luckily there's this thing called the thermos. We (or more precisely Mr S – it's his job to make the thermos of tea) make a thermos of tea at home. And then we take it with us. With my fine bone china mugs safely wrapped in a tea towel. 

Voilà. Tea as we like it. In new surroundings. A nice outing with a bikkie. If you have time, pack a boiled egg, mayo, lettuce and buttered fresh bread and you have a picnic. 

Who needs a cafe?

So Tip number 4: switch to tea, and drink your tea at home or take your own tea and have a little picnic.

As an added bonus, if you give up the coffee, not only will you save money but your breath won't stink and you will taste the subtleties in food and you won't be adding all those horrid unbiodegradable coffee cups in the environment. 

Of course this tip won't work if you say, "But coffee is my lifestyle and I wouldn't want to cut it out." Or if you hate tea or don't own a thermos. Or maybe you say my one daily coffee on a weekday isn't that expensive. $5 X 5 days X 40 (for most months of the year) X 4 years = $4,000.

And that's another fortnight off for me! You drink the coffee; I'll take the fortnight in my Year Off.

Cut the bottled water.

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut

The next tip isn't something new we've doing since our income has dropped by 20%.

Though I very occasionally may buy bottled water, I've become more conscious of it, especially in light of reducing plastic use. 

But given the amount of bottled water that is consumed, I think there must be people who could save a tonne if they followed this tip. 

Tip number 3: drink tap water 

I hardly buy bottled water. When I'm out and about and really thirsty and it's really really hot and there's no bubbler about and I won't be going home in an hour or two, I will buy a bottle.

I never buy it routinely from the supermarket. 

But even though I hardly ever buy bottled water, I still seem to end up with plastic water bottles. From conferences. From work things. From flights. And so I reuse them. Fill them at the tap. 

The little ones from airplanes are perfect for you handbag when going to the city. Not so big and heavy. 

All it takes is a little planning. Take some water with you. 

When I visit areas that use untreated rain water, I boil the kettle and leave the water to cool overnight. When I was in central Australia where they are on bore water i bought big containers of water. We then decanted into small plastic bottles for going out. 

I can't fathom paying $2 for something that is exactly the same product and costs a couple of cents. 

If you say you can taste the difference, boil the water first, or leave the water in sunlight – the chlorine will go away – its chemistry. Or add a squeeze of lemon. 

Do it for you wallet and the oceans. 

Save on on of your most regular bill – food

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut

The balances for our Year Off are growing nicely. It's safe to say we don't miss the 20%, though I would love to smash the mortgage. But I don't want the next four years to be one of self-denial and austerity.

Everything has an opportunity cost. You buy something; you can't buy something else. After all, you can only spend each dollar once. 

So why are we not missing that 20%? We're making cuts on things that we don't notice. The added bonus is the cuts help the environment too.

Tip 2: buy fewer groceries

Look I hate to harp, but for most households groceries is the area where not only a lot of money is spent, but where there can be cuts made. You can't do a lot with your mortgages or rent. 

Do you know that Australian (and British and American) households toss plenty of good food? Or food that should have been eaten but was left to rot. 

So stop buying things just because you always have. Stop buying things because you can't think what you want to cook. Stop buying extra of things because you want to feel like you are providing for your family. 

Do the menu plan!!! Even if you plan to cook something that isn't on special or is a little pricey, at least if you shop to the amounts needed and you cook it and you eat it, it's better than buying and tossing food. 

We're not perfect. Well, I am. But Mr S always buys too much. We argue over it. We toss too much when Mr S goes shopping. Mr S always buys and cooks for an army. So we end up with far too much. He forgets that often it is only the two of us at home for dinner now. 

OK, I'm not perfect in this area either. I often plan to cook pumpkin soup for work. And the pumpkin goes off. I plan to cook red cabbage the way my mother does. And the red cabbage goes off. 

I never get around to the red cabbage because it isn't really by recipe and it has to be cooked slowly. I never get around to the soup because the soup is not for the right now but for work the next day and after work who feels like cooking dinner and something else for later?

But I've made sure I'm nearly perfect in this area. 

The up-shot? We have cut our grocery bills without it making an impact on the variety and quality of dinners we eat. 

What's coming up for dinner in the next fortnight?

  • Potato, cauliflower and red lentil curry served with coriander and yoghurt.
  • Steak, chips and veggies.
  • Chicken pie.
  • Lamb Rohan josh with rice, yoghurt and coriander.
  • Curried vegetables and prawns. 2X
  • Bangers and mash.
  • Beef and Guinness stew. 2X
  • Fish and chips.
  • Beef and chickpea curry. 2X
  • A roast.
  • Minestrone soup.

Yes, lots of curries. We like them in winter. So warming. The ones with 2X after them are double meals. So we have extra nights without cooking. Leftovers won't be tossed out. They do lunch for me and breakfast and snacks for The Dreamer. (He prefers dinner-type foods for breakfast.)

Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut

We are one semester in on our first year on 80% of our income. Seven semesters to go. 

We have saved for 6 weeks’ pay – at 80% of our current income. 

Someone pointed out we miss out on pay rises. Well yes. But if we kept working we’d miss out on the year off. 

And given inflation and current increases in pay, this is probably a financially good time to do the Deferred Salary Scheme. 

One of our goals was that we would not have a lifestyle cut for the next four years. 

Not that we’re greedy and want it all. Just that we don’t want to feel pain or live a cold and gloomy life for four years just to have a year off. 

So that means we still want to eat out occasionally. We still want to catch up with friends. We still want to eat yummy dinners  most nights – not forgoing nice steaks for cheap snags and mince. We still want to travel in term breaks and go on overseas holidays. We still want to pay off our mortgage. We still want to buy clothes and nice stuff. Mr S still wants (and bought) the last Australian made Holden Commodore. I want work done on the house and garden. I want to go to French lessons. We still want to help our offspring out here and there. Mr S needs expensive dental implants. 

Oh dear! It does sound greedy, as if we aren’t prepared to make sacrifices. 

But we are. 

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that the biggest cut has been to overpaying our mortgage. We are still paying more than the minimum, but not smashing it. 

However, we are making other cuts. Things that make a difference to the bottom line but don’t make much of an impact on our life. 

Over the next four years I will share some of our money saving tips that don’t cut into lifestyle. 

Tip one: menu plan and shop fortnightly. We write our menu plan for a fortnight and shop for the fortnight. (With an ocassional top-up of fruit and veg in between.)

This stops dropping into the supermarket for something and picking up one or two or more things you just have to have but never planned to buy. 

Menu planning also stops you buying food items you don’t need. (OK, this doesn’t always work, especially if I send Mr S. So if you are like him and put too many veggies in the trolley or grab things that catch your eye, you will end up with waste. So stick to the list and buy just enough.)

Our menu plan also includes “catch and kill your own” nights, ie left-over nights. There’s always a curry that feeds more or a night when not everyone is home. We don’t toss left-overs. They become another dinner. Anyway, curries and stews are always nicer if left for a few days. 

When you menu plan, make sure you can use up ingredients in different meals. For example if a recipe calls for a sprinkling of fresh coriander, which you can only buy by the bunch, pick another meal that uses fresh coriander. 

If we did t plan, every night would be more stressful. What are we going to cook? Do we need to pick something up from the supermarket? Could we be bothered? Should we just eat out?

So by menu planning we save money and stress. 

I could share a menu plan, but sometimes the shorthand we use for the dinner means little to others. For example, Mr S makes a much-loved korma based curry called Hurry Curry. He made it up. There’s no written recipe. But we know it has chicken, corn, carrots and peas. Trust me, it is delicious.

Or my dish, called Mum’s pasta dish, (as in son: “What’s for tea?” Dad: “Mum’s making her pasta dish.”) is different veggies, depending on what we have to hand and a tomatoey sauce with pasta and grated cheese. 

We like variety so try to have different meat and different types of meals. We do have regular favourites. And different ones for winter and summer. Wraps with BBQ chicken kebabs are a summer fav. But who wants a wrap in winter? No, warming stews and curries are winter fare. 

Whatever you like eating, planning for a fortnight means you only have the stress of deciding what to cook once a fortnight. Not every night. And you save money. 

What a lifestyle and wallet win!!!