Jun 5, 2011

The New Economy

So as mentioned earlier I've been exploring ways to save money around the house. I don't want this to be a recipe blog, I'm about the principles and practicalities, but I'll put some links to the best sites I've found for that sort of thing at the end.

I want to stress that there is a trade for all this stuff, its time. I find that time is the commodity I have most of at the moment so all this stuff suits me, I totally understand that if you're full time working it might not be practical for you. There is nothing revolutionary here, you can pick and choose, or slowly build them up, I certainly didn't do all this in one fell swoop and I'm not finished yet. :)

Ok so here are the main areas where I'm saving the most money:

  • Make some of your own cleaning and personal hygiene products.

    Vinegar, Bicarb Soda, Borax and Soda Crystals are amazing and cost bugger all. At the moment they are used around my house in various combinations to replace kitchen bench cleaner, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, dishwasher powder, dog shampoo, my shampoo, deodorant, liquid hand wash, laundry liquid and fabric softener. This is by far the biggest money saver I've discovered, I'd estimate I've cut our spending in this area back to less than 10% of what it once was. Its weird going to the shops now and seeing all that stuff on the shelves that irrelevant to my life. :P

    In most cases using these products won't require a compromise in quality. Vinegar for example is a natural disinfectant, but it can sometimes take a while to find the right combination or mean getting used to a slight difference. Vinegar smells when you first spray it around, but 15 mins later its clean and the smell is gone.

    In some cases there is an improvement, 3 table spoons of bicarb dissolved in a saucepan of water brought up to the boil, then placed in a spray bottle makes for an amazing deodorant, I can work hard and get covered in sweat in the garden and still not smell, plus it cost about 20 cents!

    I avoid recipes with ammonia, it may be cheep but can do nasty things when mixed with other chemicals.

  • Stock up on non perishable stuff.

    A simple principle, if you see a canned food, toilet paper or cooking ingredients that will keep a long time on special (a good special) then buy a lot of it. I mean lots. Then when you get half way or more through the stock ad the item to your 'if on special' shopping list. The ideal is that you reach a point where you have so much stocked up that you only ever buy these kinds of products when they are on special, effectively achieving a permanent reduction in price. Look for bulk purchases too, often the big bag of rice is still cheaper than the small bag on special. If you have a good freezer then bulk meat can work the same way, most butchers are willing negotiate a better price if you buy more.

    Oh and one little tip, don't stock up on things you can't resist, if you just end up consuming it faster then it defeats the purpose. :)

  • Second hand can be better, if not then find a speciality store.

    They just don't make stuff like they used to, almost anything bought from the big department stores is made cheaply and wont last (and often in environmentaly irresponsible or unethical ways). I say 'almost' just to cover my ass, but really I'm not aware of a single thing they sell that actually represents good value in the long term. Clothing, bedding and kitchen utensils that have stood the test of time can often come from places like Vinies and the Salvos, my parents are great at finding stuff for me at garage sales (a practice I plan to start after we move), and if you can't find what you need then find a shop or industry stockist that specialises, where you can talk to someone who knows the product and will get you something to last. I have a 2 year old fry pan that looks as good as the day I bought it, it cost more but should last me well over a decade, my favourite jacket at the moment cost me 8 bucks at Vinies.

  • Baking and cooking.

    This is my new passion, I bake snacks, sweets, deserts and best of all bread. I buy 10kg bags of flour and we haven't bought bread in months, pulling a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven is 100% guaranteed to put a big smile on my face, there is something primal about it, its a truly wonderful feeling. Getting back to the finances, I can make a huge bowl of cheese crackers (about 3 supermarket boxes worth I'd guess) for less than 2 dollars, or for the same cost make the equivalent of about 6 boxes of muesli bars. Bread and butter pudding made with home made bread is sublime and cost you a couple of eggs and some milk on top of a few bread slices. That's another couple of aisles in the supermarket I can ignore :P

  • Still to come.
    I'm a bit restricted in the garden here because we are slowly getting this house ready for selling, but after we move I have plans for a grand vegie patch and some small livestock. The aim is self sufficiency for fruit and veg, eggs and maybe even milk and cheese. There will also be more preserving and drying of foods too.

So that's about it so far, its hard to capture the impact of the saving we have made without getting into specifics. I guess the proof is in the pudding. Vicki and I work one day a week each, and at the moment we are actually managing to save a little every week. Its probably worth noting that we don't pay rent or a mortgage and there are a few fancy electrical doodads I'm doing without. But I still think its mighty impressive.

Here are some great links for more info:
That's just a start, there is heaps out there so you might have to do some googling :)

Also if any readers (if I have any readers :P) have ideas on saving money I'd love to hear em :)


Mark Osberg said...

The second hand shops near your place sometimes have great clothes. My favourite green suit from there only cost $16

Ian said...

If you are ever out Woodford way there is a lifeline shop just off the main rode poked into a little shed (just across from the side entrance to the new yucky Woolies) that is full of gold. Or was last time I visited.

Boon said...

I've started simplifying. Not as much as I'd like, but much more than I'm used to. The end result is not just saving money, but feeling better too. My new favorite thing is cooking, and I'm cooking a lot of stuff which can be stored and tastes delicious after reheating in a microwave. Stuff like soups, which I've never traditionally been a big fan of, until I discovered how AMAZING home made soups are. Every week I cook a pumpkin soup, and a tomato soup. Both are made with entirely natural, preservative-free ingredients, they look great when you're putting them together, taste great, and are super healthy. Also, they cost about $1.50 per meal. I swear I'm getting much more nutrition than I used to when I lived in Brisbane. And I've lost 10kg since I moved here. I've kind of gone soup batty...

...I need more delicious natural healthy recipes!

Ian said...

That's awesome boon, I'm loving time in the kitchen too. I tell myself its time spent that's just as valid as a day at work. Have you experimented with dried ingredients in your soups, like lentils, chick pees, barley etc. You can get them in bags at the supermarket for a few bucks and they are a great way to pad out the soup. They are good for you too. When I first started using em I would sometimes under cook them with is not good, and they do tend to thicken up your soup into something more like a stew :P But they are great for a variation.

Also the spice Cumin is so cool.I can't believe the west is so obsessed with curry powder when its cumin that is the key to such a good curry taste. Put in a slow cooker with meat (optional), vege onion, garlic and and a can of coconut milk and you have a Thai curry. Mix it with some tomato, onion, garlic, ginger (all so far in a blender) then cream and you have an Indian butter sauce - http://www.vahrehvah.com/Butter+Chicken:797

Rice is a great way to save and be healthy, I buy ten kilo bags and often cook half as much meat (or the same but eat over 2 nights) and have it with rice. This recipe gets you something that is the closest I've found to Indian Take away rice (again I make big batched and store em up for later)-

Toad in the whole will come close to doubling the mileage you get out of your sausages and if you make the onion gravy to go with it, its just divine! -

Also if you ever have a go at your own bread if its bakes fresh that day its Soooo good with soup :P

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