Recent Hints & Tips

Full access to the Vault of Hints is for members only, but here's a taste! Hints are contributed by both staff and members.

Hundreds of recipes that WILL cost a bean!
updated Yesterday
I found a fantastic website which is full of low-cost recipes for using all sorts of fresh and dried beans. I stumbled across it when I was trying to use up dried beans in my pantry on a $21 Challenge week. is a basic looking site, but the bean recipes are listed by type which is very helpful.

Most types have 100-600 recipes each, so you should find a few that you have ingredients for. Bean paste, sprouts, cakes, baked beans, salads, bakes, soups, crunchy fried beans; pretty much everything you can think of. Beans are great cheap food, as you can use up old packets in the pantry to meet protein requirements for a few nights and reduce your meat intake for the week. Filling, healthy, tasty and frugal. If you can substitute two family bean/pea/lentil recipes for meat meals a week, that's about $15 a week saved. Or more if you're a poor uni student living on rice and lentils!

This site also has other sections for other types of recipes, like rice, camping, bread machine, gifts in a jar, slow cookers and much more. Check it out!
Pancake mix and syrup for gourmet gift giving
updated Yesterday
I gave my family gourmet pancake mix for Christmas and they loved it! I used Mimi's home-made bulk pancake mix recipe (in the Savings Vault) and placed the mix in ziplock bags with the instructions written down the bottom. I attached a printed label to jazz it up - I was even asked if it was bought at the market.

To add to the pancake mix, I bought some delicious bottles of Canadian maple syrup. All up, I spent $7.00 on each gift so for $49 and a little time, I made seven gifts - I got so many compliments I was blushing by the time everyone opened them. I even gave a pack as a Kris Kringle gift and it kept the girls at work guessing all week.

A successfully frugal Christmas was achieved through planning, thoughtfulness and thanks to Simple Savings. I don't see financial hard times as hard times as such, I see them as an exciting challenge to get the most out of life, without the expense.
How to get $500 for free
updated Yesterday
Here's a way you can get a free $500, just for saving $500! Saver Plus matches your savings dollar for dollar up to $500, for education costs including school uniforms, text books, laptops, sporting equipment and music tuition! To be eligible you need to have a Centrelink Health Care Card or Pension card.

To get $500, you save $12.50 a week into a fee-free bank account and attend four free workshops (10 hours in total) on good money habits. After ten months you have saved $500, and Saver Plus matches this with another $500. Find out more at
Free swimming lessons
updated Yesterday
I am saving a fortune on swimming lessons for my children! Coming into the summer season, I was keen to get my kids back in the pool and swimming confidently. The closest swimming pool which would cater to my kids that offered lessons however was over 70km away and was going to cost $360 for 10 lessons for three kids for the term. So I did a little research and came across a fantastic website called which offers free swimming lessons plans and instructional videos. I decided to take on the challenge to teach them myself. Fortunately I have a friend who has a pool with a step on the edge, so each week I download the new lesson plan and do my own lessons with the kids. The kids love it and I see it as a great bonding opportunity. Plus it's completely free - even we had to do it at the local town pool it would only cost a few dollars in comparison!
Plain wrapping paper
updated 17 Nov 2017
When purchasing discounted wrapping paper in the post-Christmas sales, ensure that some of the paper is plain, or in a non-specific pattern, so that it can be used to wrap birthday presents throughout the year. It also ensures that you have paper on hand at all times, not to mention saving a lot as you get high-quality paper for a fraction of the price.
Easy sweet and sour chicken
updated 17 Nov 2017
This recipe for sweet and sour chicken is very simple. Best of all, my kids love it.


1 packet French onion soup
1/2 cup orange cordial
1/2 cup water
1kg chicken breast, diced


Combine soup, cordial and water and pour over the chicken. Cook in a moderate oven until the chicken is cooked through, or cook in a slow cooker.

On occasions, I have added a packet of frozen stir-fry vegetables to the mixture and served over steamed rice.
Five meals from two sticks of cabana!
updated 17 Nov 2017
Our family made it through a $21 Challenge with no meat in the house except two 40cm sticks of cabana - and we had a blast! Thanks to a bit of creative thinking we managed to stretch it to five - yes, FIVE - delicious meals!

Meal One: Cabana Wraps. Cut one of the cabana sticks into two pieces and put one half back in the fridge. Slice the other half lengthways, then cross-ways into thin 'half moon' shapes. Fry with onion, grated carrot and a quarter of a sugarloaf cabbage and some tinned corn. Serve in wraps.

Meal 2: Cabana Fried Rice. Take the other piece of cabana and dice it into small pieces. Fry together with onions and other mixed vegetables, then add rice and an egg to make fried rice.

Meal 3: Cabana Sushi! Take the left over fried rice and roll in nori to make a Challenge week version of sushi. It doesn't stick as well but does the trick for dinner!

Remember we have still only used one stick of cabana.

Meal 4: Cabana Pizzas. Take the second stick of cabana and cut that in half, putting one half back in the fridge. Make a pizza dough and roll out as usual. Top with thinly sliced cabana, tinned pineapple, fresh herbs, cheese and BBQ sauce or whatever you have on hand.

Meal 5: Cabana Spuds. Bake jacket potatoes and top with the last of the shredded cabana and in our case cream cheese as it's what we had on hand. We ate this accompanied with the last of the salad vegetables on the side.

Wow! We had a ball this week and I think we could probably go again pantry-wise and just spend the $21 on just meat this week! Although keeping in mind that my twin pack of cabana cost me just 3.99 at the butchers, I'm laughing!
Wear summer shirts all year round
1 comment
updated 17 Nov 2017
My children wear their favourite summer shirts all year round. In winter, I buy the cheap long-sleeved thick shirts from Kmart then put their summer shirts over the top. The kids are warm in their summer favourites and I save a ton on their winter wardrobe.
Save on formula for lactose intolerant babies
updated 16 Nov 2017
If your baby has a problem with lactose, you don't have to pay top price for expensive formulas. You can save heaps by asking your doctor and get it on script. Also, if you have a health care card, you can get four or five tins at a time for the price of one script, which is about $5.40. This will give you about a month's worth, depending on how much they drink!
Home-made Baileys
updated 16 Nov 2017
1 cup Scotch whisky (cheapest is fine)
1 tin evaporated milk
1 tin condensed milk
1 cup hot water with 1-2 tablespoons of coffee (add to your taste preference)

Add all the ingredients to a well-sealed container and store in the fridge. Shake the container daily. The weight conscious can use low-fat milk.
14 meals from one chicken!
updated 15 Nov 2017
Imagine getting 14 meals out of a single cooked chicken! It's my biggest food saving and this is how I do it.

Buy a whole chicken (on special of course)! Get a large pot. Place chicken in it and add chunky chopped carrot, onion, celery and mixed herbs (I grow my own so save more money here)!

Boil until the meat is starting to fall off the bone (I have a wood heater so I cook on that, saving gas in winter) Take the meat and vegetables out, reserving the liquid. Serve some of the meat and all the vegetables with mashed potato and white sauce.

With leftover meat, make up some chicken sandwiches and freeze them for quick lunches. Use the rest in curries or whatever other suitable recipes you have.

Back to the liquid. Add a little more water, chop up whatever soup vegetables you have or add lots of lentils, a dash of paprika and salt and slowly simmer to make a few meals of wonderful thick soup. This way, I feed two of us 14 meals out of the one chicken! Not only is it cheap, it is good for you and has helped the purse strings through many tight times over the years.
Save 5% on Woolworth's e-gift cards
updated 13 Nov 2017
Most people know that you can purchase Wish Cards from your local RACV (or equivalent) but I only found out recently that you can now purchase them online in an e-gift card too! The added bonus of not having to go into an office is great and you can also buy more denominations too. We save about $12.50 per week using it for the things we grab at Woolies and fuel for the cars. I also use a Flybuys linked credit card to purchase the e-gift cards so am maximising points for both loyalty programs!
Swap paper towel for recycled towels and save
updated 13 Nov 2017
Save up to $156 a year by eliminating paper towel and replacing it with cloths made from recycled towels.To make your cloths, cut up an old towel into 15x15cm pieces which will give you about 30 cloths. If you wish, you can stitch the edges to stop them from fraying. Store in a container under the sink. When you're doing a load of washing, throw them in and reuse. What a great saving on money and the environment.
My pencil case works better than any purse!
updated 12 Nov 2017
My new 'purse' has turned out to be a fantastic accidental saving! A little while ago the zip on my purse broke. Seeing as it was a few days before payday I thought I would wait before purchasing a new one. When I got home I grabbed a spare small pencil case overlooked by the kids from a show bag. I have now been using this for several months and find it so much better than any purse I have ever bought! Everything fits in easily including all my receipts. It's much easier to find in my bag as the colour is really bright and I am sure it will be less of a target for thieves (a hot pink panda pencil case doesn't look particularly valuable)! If I want to get a new one I now have a huge range of designs to choose from at a fraction of the cost of a traditional purse. I am honestly surprised at how well my 'make do' solution has worked!
Buy salad and herb plants
updated 12 Nov 2017
Instead of buying cut herbs, check out your grocery store for living, growing salad and herb plants. It's a convenient way to buy plants like Parsley which I can use straight away, then plant them so I can use them over and over. Convenient, no waste and you can't beat the fresh taste.
Make your own cleaning "gloves"
1 comment
updated 12 Nov 2017
I make my own cleaning gloves from old towels. I cut old towels into a mitten shape and stitch two together, leaving an opening. They are so easy to use, wet or dry, I use both sides, turn them inside out and use both sides again. Then, into the wash.
Slow-cooked roast tips
updated 12 Nov 2017
If you're looking to add a little variety to your weekly menu with minimal effort, try using your slow cooker to cook a roast. This can then be used to make a number of meals. I have done this with some success, and I hate cooking meat of any kind! Here are some of the basic guidelines for my Sunbeam 4.5 litre slow cooker:

Beef or lamb: Cut away excess fat from lamb. Place the meat into the slow cooker and cook. Approximate cooking times for well done are:
LOW: 2-2.5 hours per 500g
HIGH: 1-1.5 hours per 500g
There's no need to turn meat during cooking.

Chicken: Wash the chicken and pat dry. Stuff if desired and truss. Place the chicken into the slow cooker, dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika to add extra colour. Approximate cooking times:
LOW: 1.5-2.5 hours per 500g
HIGH: 1-1.5 hours per 500g
Use TV ad breaks to save your hip pocket (and your hips)
updated 11 Nov 2017
I am saving $10 a week in my hip pocket and looking after my hips by using TV ad breaks to do chores. Instead of just plonking down for the night eating snacks, I am up and moving in the breaks, doing things like the dishes. My house is looking cleaner, I have stopped putting on weight and am feeling much more motivated while still enjoying my telly. Love it!
From Tiny Acorns Do Mighty Oaks Grow...
updated 11 Nov 2017
From Tiny Acorns Do Mighty Oaks Grow...
I love investing but found the whole idea of putting bigger amounts in the share-market a bit scary, brick and mortar seems safer...Till I discovered a new app called Acorns (it is a US based company and now also provides Australia based service (search for Acorns Australia in App Store). It's a free app, and apart from investing bigger amounts, you can also invest tiny amounts in an exchange traded (ETF) fund of your choice as it has a cool "Round Up" Option for when you use EFTPOS or Credit- so if you buy a coffee / or shop for groceries it will round up to next dollar - say 2.80 rounded up to 3.00, and invest the 0.20 in your ETF. You can also make recurring investments in your portfolio from your "funding account" which is not a credit card or overdraft, I have set one up for $10 a week - as an experiment.
After reading the review by Noel Whittaker (, I was encouraged and feel it's a doable project towards keeping a saving rather than spending attitude. I have noticed that now I prefer to fund my portfolio even by $2.00 than spend it on silly things :)
I have not been in it for too long to report results, but wanted to share with SS friends. And who knows, I might just pick up the courage to invest more than micro-amounts in the future!

I have discovered a new free app called Acorns that allows tiny investment amounts to grow into a share-market portfolio. Acorns (Acorns Australia in App Store) has a "Round Up" option when paying with EFTPOS or Credit. I can buy a coffee for $3.80, round it up to $4 and invest the 20c into a fund (exchange traded fund EFT of my choice). I also make recurring investments and have the option of bigger amounts. For more info, please see It's early days, I but feel it's helping me save rather than spend.
Use the rain to aid fertilisation
updated 11 Nov 2017
Save money by fertilising in the rain.
We wait for rain before fertilising our garden.
This means that we don't have to use precious water (due to the drought) to 'water it in' after fertilising, which is necessary for the plants and grass and it also saves money on our water bill.
Free or low-cost transport for eligible Queenslanders
1 comment
updated 11 Nov 2017
Brisbane and City of Gold Coast Councils offer affordable shared taxi services for eligible people that can save lots. For more information call Brisbane City Council Cabs on 34032227 or Gold Coast residents call 55828211. Other Queensland councils may offer free or low-cost transport for eligible people. Check your local council to see what might be available for you.
Vegie prep plus a little
0 comment
updated 11 Nov 2017
Save time by preparing extra vegetables when making dinner. Plan menus so you can use similar ingredients on consecutive days. You will save time preparing, washing up and in a pinch, even stretch your quantities for an extra day. Great tip!
AGL rewards programs save hundreds
0 comment
updated 11 Nov 2017
I save at least $500 a year by buying e-gift cards and using offers through rewards programs. By having both gas and electricity with AGL, I am eligible to buy gift cards, movie tickets and more using their rewards. The e-gift cards/vouchers save me 5% at Coles, Woolworths, Kmart and Big W and 10% off all my medications at Priceline. I recently saved $25 at dinner just by showing my AGL rewards card. Great savings and available nationwide.
How to use leftover potato water
updated 10 Nov 2017
If you've just boiled up a pot full of spuds and are about to tip the water down the drain, stop right now! That water is full of nutrients and vitamins and can be used again.

Next time you have potato water, you may like to try using it for soups, gravies, stews, as a base for making stock, liquid in baking biscuits, breads or pancakes, or a broth drink! You can even leave it to cool and pour over your garden plants.

I have achieved fantastic results since I started to use the potato water in my home-made bread, rolls and buns. It's a great way to get additional nutrients from our foods and a big water saver.
Freshen up pillows in the rain
updated 10 Nov 2017
You don't need to use any chemicals or expensive products to clean and freshen up my bed pillows - in fact, you don't even need to use tap water! All you need is a rainy day and simply hang your pillows on the clothesline to get wet. After being outside in the fresh air and rain for about 24/36 hours, all stains are removed and the pillows are fresh and clean. Of course you just need some extra pillows to allow for complete drying time but once dry your pillows will smell clean and look like new, all for free!

... and thousands more.

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