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.

Beautiful hair for a tiny price
updated Yesterday
I get three times the use out of my favourite leave-in hair conditioner and save $65 a year on having to buy it so often! I have thick, curly hair, so to save washing it daily I also use VO5 brand Leave-in Conditioner spray at a cost of $5.29 per 200ml bottle. Each bottle would only last three weeks at the most, adding up to an annual cost of $90+.

This was proving too expensive so I decided to keep all my used bottles until I ended up with three empty ones and one new one. I now divide the contents of the new bottle into four equal portions in each bottle, then fill the remainder of the 200ml bottle with cold water and shake to combine. Any less product ratio than 25% I found doesn't condition my hair as well, but this may vary for other hair types. Instead of buying a new bottle every three weeks, I now only need to buy one every three months! I no longer spend $90 a year but am now spending a maximum of $25 on the same product and I still get the same results for my hair!
The Power of Labels
updated 18 Jun 2018
I have found a simple and effective way to save money that really works for me. All I need is a label! Let me explain. In my house, if you are made of chocolate, then you are in mortal danger. I can't hide it. I will find it. I can't give myself a limit and be satisfied. I will break it. But if it belongs to someone else, if it has a LABEL, it is safe. Completely safe. One little label equals one safe little choccie. And I have discovered my money is also safe if it has one little label! I've set up a special savings account that splits up my money under different labels. That money cannot, I repeat, CANNOT be touched unless it is for that purpose. And for six years straight, I have kept that promise. The power of a label is phenomenal. Me, a strong powerful woman, completely floored by a little puny label. Maybe it is your kryptonite too!
Simple grated cheese
updated 17 Jun 2018
For the same money, I now get more than twice the amount of grated cheese by buying block cheese and grating it myself. I use tasty cheese which is easy to grate, easy to store and can be frozen. Simple!
Variety with gluten free cooking
updated 16 Jun 2018
It is possible to be gluten free and enjoy a wide variety of foods. By substituting the things you can't eat with things that you can, you can stick to an allergy free diet and save! My children are all gluten free but we have found ways to save on the food they can eat. One trick is to make cakes and biscuits that are meant to use wheat based flours and substitute them with gluten free SR flour (available from health shops or supermarkets). You need to add one teaspoon of baking powder (gluten free) for every cup of gluten free SR flour. There is no difference in the cakes and biscuits. This makes it easy for special birthdays, morning teas and other occasions. Gluten free biscuits cost a minimum of $3.50 to buy. My kids now cook the cakes and biscuits themselves so they have also learn a new skill as we save.

I also make my own pasta using the SR flour, which can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It doesn't turn out as good as the wheat based version but as I am married to an Italian who loves his pasta, so it provides a good substitute!
Go get car sharing to save on motor costs
1 comment
updated 15 Jun 2018
I am saving on the cost of owning and maintaining a car by joining a Sydney and Melbourne-based car sharing network called GoGet You pay a $500 joining fee which is refunded if you leave the group. There is then a monthly fee of either $15 or $30 depending on how frequently you use the network, then you pay per hour and per kilometre. You do not pay for petrol.

You book your car online for the hours you need and all the cars are brand new Toyota Yaris'. It is hard getting hold of a car at short notice or for an emergency, but it's great if you plan in advance and use public transport the rest of the time. This would be a great alternative for couples or families that are thinking of getting a second car.
Foil-boards keep the heat in!
updated 12 Jun 2018
We have just reduced our power bill and saved ourself almost $4000 on insulated window blinds. We live in a cold climate where a lot of heat is lost from windows so we wanted keep our home warmer and save on our power bills by insulating them. We had heard that the best insulating product available was 'honeycomb blinds'. After enquiring with a local supplier about them we were quoted almost $4000, which was beyond our budget, so we decided against it. Instead, we went to the local hardware store and bought several sheets of 'Foil-board' at a cost of $130.00. We simply cut the board to size to fit our windows. Now everyday, just as we are drawing the blinds, we insert the foil-boards into our window spaces. We know they are working extremely well because our gas heater, which is on thermostat, turns itself off a lot now as our home is so much warmer. During the day we just store the boards behind the couch where they cannot be seen.
Immune-boosting chicken soup
updated 12 Jun 2018
Because my mum has an auto-immune disease, she is prone to colds, flu and pneumonia and takes an average of 12-18 tablets a day. As I don't want Mum to get sick or have to take more tablets, I needed to think up a way of boosting her immune system. So I started to make ordinary chicken soup, but it wasn't potent enough. That's when I came up with this recipe. I think that it tastes delicious and has plenty of flavour.

Becky's Kill Anything Chicken Soup

8-9 chicken lovely legs, skinless
8-10 chopped cloves of garlic
1 chopped onion
2-3 small red chillies (Remove the seeds if you don't like it too hot as they're the hottest part, or just use one chilli. But you must use small chillis because they loosen mucus.)
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 litres Continental chicken stock
2 finely chopped carrots
1-2 handfuls corn
1 cup macaroni pasta
2-3 handfuls baby spinich

Heat the oil in a stock pot and brown the chicken, garlic, onion, chilli and ginger.
Add the chicken stock, carrots and corn.
Bring to the boil, and if needed add water. Simmer for 15-30 minutes. Take out the chicken, pull the meat off the bone, break meat into small pieces and put back in the pot. Add macaroni and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Add baby spinach, taste, add salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

Since I've started to make this recipe, my mother has had fewer colds. When she has been sick it has not been for as long and has meant fewer hospital visits - not to mention fewer doctor's visits. Between the savings on medical bills, doctor's bills and hospital visits, I cannot begin to imagine what our savings have been but I don't doubt that it's been in the thousands of dollars.

Save hundreds by collecting coins
updated 11 Jun 2018
I have saved nearly $600 in under 6 months by never using coin. I keep all my coin change and purchase items only using notes. At the end of each day I empty the change from my wallet and sort it into three containers. A 600ml lemonade bottle takes the two dollar coins which I save for future big ticket items. The 50 cent pieces are put into a purse for school canteen and Church donations. A big tin holds the rest and goes into my emergency account. I store the containers out of sight for safety but also because 'out of sight is out of mind'; that way more money is saved.
Pancake mix and syrup for gourmet gift giving
updated 8 Jun 2018
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.
Free writing and creative workshops with ABC Open
updated 7 Jun 2018
If you are a wannabe writer, photographer or film maker, consider joining ABC Open for free access to some wonderful knowledge and resources. I have always loved to write so last year I decided I would participate. This free program is run by the ABC in regional areas. There are free workshops in writing, photography and video making. Each region hosts these sessions, usually monthly and are generally held in public libraries. Participants offer suggestions on how you can improve your writing. Log onto the ABC website ( for more information. In the time I've been participating my writing has improved and I've published several contributions on the website. I've also met some interesting people in the process!
Winter clothes suitcase storage
updated 4 Jun 2018
We store our winter clothing and winter blankets in suitcases. Most of our suitcases were bought from charity stores. These are kept under our beds as we rent an old house with limited storage.
This weekly meal plan has halved my food bill!
updated 4 Jun 2018
I have managed to reduce my food bill down to $180 per fortnight, which includes all free range meat, gluten-free products and the odd treat too! I have been out of work since August last year and have found that the biggest expense is groceries. To keep costs down I no longer buy anything prepackaged and make a cake or biscuits every week. I also make a quiche or zucchini slice every week for my son to have for breakfast, which has been a success, keeping him going for a very busy uni schedule.

I make a meal plan each week and this is what I buy:

Tin of tuna - makes one meal with leftovers (pasta bake is a favourite).
1kg chicken thighs - makes two meals - Indian curry and Thai curry - also plenty of leftovers.
Whole chicken - makes three meals - roast chicken, chicken fricassee and soup.
1kg mince - makes two meals - spaghetti bolognaise and burgers.
500g mince - I split this in two and can make two lots of nachos with beans.
Bacon for carbonara or matriciana.

For the last three meals I buy whatever meat is on special. This makes a total of 14 meals. By following this simple plan we have been able to keep our groceries under $180 a fortnight and eat quite well. It has cut the amount I used to spend in half and works so well I plan to keep it up when I do get a job!
Two cents for a unique birthday greeting
updated 2 Jun 2018
I created a cheap, cheerful birthday greeting for a couple of cents! I wanted to acknowledge the birthday of a friend who lives thousands of kilometres away. So, I blew up a balloon (using a pump) but instead of tying off the end, I held it tightly closed. With a permanent marker I wrote messages and drew small pictures all over the inflated balloon. I then deflated the balloon and popped it in an envelope addressed to the birthday girl. When she receives it, she can blow up the balloon to read her messages.
Easy saving for next Christmas
updated 1 Jun 2018
I save for Christmas presents by putting aside money throughout the year. Using discounted Christmas cards from the post-Christmas sales, I write a name in each card. Each card is for someone I will give a gift to at Christmas. I put money into each card when I can afford it. When Christmas arrives there is money for each person, all I have to do is work out how to spend it.
Teeth whitening
updated 1 Jun 2018
I recently enquired with a friend of mine that works as a dental nurse as to how much teeth whitening costs.

'Heaps!' she said. And then suggested I try something that is every dentist's secret. Rinse each morning and night with warm water and salt.

I have now being doing this for one week, and my teeth are at least one shade whiter.

Saving -
Teeth whitening by dentist = $800.
Teeth whitening by salt = $0.74c (for Black & Gold salt)

Savings of $799.26!
7-Eleven app saves on fuel
updated 30 May 2018
I save about $5/week using the 7-Eleven fuel lock app. By locking in the cheapest fuel price I have seven days from my original purchase to buy the same amount of fuel at the locked in price. I can lock in another fuel price if it becomes cheaper during the seven days. No in-store purchase is needed. Check out the other terms and conditions for more information.
Toothpaste for only $0.83c
updated 29 May 2018
Many chemists stock AIM toothpaste, which is not available in most supermarkets. It is sold in a three-pack for $2.49. That's only $0.83c per tube!
Imperfect fruit is a perfect bargain
updated 29 May 2018
You can save money at your local fruit shop by looking at the bargain table. Every fruit shop has one, normally towards the back or the side of the store closest to the storage rooms. You can get produce that is over-ripe or has a mark on it for as little as $0.50c or $1.00. Most of the time it is perfect to eat, it just doesn't look as good as other produce.
Tasty burger patties
1 comment
updated 29 May 2018
One of our favourite meals is McMummy's - an idea that came from the Savings Vault. I have come up with my own recipe for burger patties that taste really meaty, rather than rissoley, and they make an economical cheeseburger.

1kg mince
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp each of basil, oregano and thyme
1 egg

Mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Tip onto the bench or chopping board and press into a flat rectangle with your hands. Roll out like a scone dough, with a rolling pin if you have one, otherwise just press firmly so it compacts and you have an even thickness. You have to roll one way with the rolling pin otherwise the mince will just stick and come away. You can roll it between sheets of baking paper if preferred.

Using a large scone cutter cut out your patties and freeze on a plate between freezer bags. When frozen, place into freezer bags and they will remain separate for future use. I toast slices of bread on my griddle plate to get the stripes, cut the bread into rounds with the scone cutter, pop the pattie in with a slice of cheese and a squirt of tomato sauce (and a pickle for those who like them). They are served with home-made wedges in a paper bag with McMummy's logo (printed off my home computer and stapled to the sides), and a thick shake. I include trinkets like stickers, tiny soaps, DVD vouchers, hair accessories or old McDonald's giveaways.

I calculate that McMummy's costs around $1.00 for the 'meal deal', tastes better and is heaps more fun!
Declutter your inbox and resist impulse buys
updated 27 May 2018
Decluttering is a great way to save money (and often make some) but clutter isn't only the physical things we have in our houses; it can come in other forms too! Save time and money by spending a few minutes going through your email inbox, and unsubscribing from store lists. If you don't see their ads you won't be prompted to pop in for 'just a look'. Make sure you unsubscribe from all those tempting daily deal sites as well! Check your newsletter subscriptions, and only receive the ones that truly provide value. And, if you don't already have it - put up a sign refusing junk mail in your mail box. Save time and the planet!
Fix a broken key to save $280
updated 26 May 2018
I kept losing my broken key as it could no longer be attached to my key chain. I was quoted $280 to have it fixed! So I heated sewing needle, being careful not to burn myself. I pushed the hot needle though the plastic top of the key. I was careful to not go near the chip inside. I made the hole big enough to fit a new keychain in. Now I don't lose the lose key and I saved $280. Whoop!
Fresh baked biscuits on demand
1 comment
updated 26 May 2018
Yesterday I made the biscuit mixture recipe from the $21 Challenge book but instead of baking more than I needed, I divided the dough into thirds. I stored two lots in, zip lock bags, in the fridge. These will last until I need fresh biscuits. I baked the other third as usual. I like to roll the dough thin, butter with chocolate spread, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, cut into squares and bake. Crisp, delicious and my new favourite way of using this recipe.
Flybuys and Everyday Rewards Christmas saving option
updated 26 May 2018
In four months I've saved nearly $90 for Christmas. I collect Flybuys and Everyday Rewards. I opt to save my Everyday Rewards points until Christmas where they will reduce the total of my grocery bill. At Christmas I convert my Flybuys to dollars which can be spent in many stores. For both I look out for bonus points when shopping.
Save $70 on a dog bed
1 comment
updated 26 May 2018
Instead of paying $85 for a large dog bed my pet can stretch out on, I bought a second-hand cot mattress for $15 from Gumtree. He loves it.
Sports shoes and equipment supplier
0 comment
updated 26 May 2018
I have found an amazing sporty hidden treasure! 'Boots for All' (also called 'Sports for All') is a charity shop specialising in sports equipment. Here is how it works:

• people donate used footy boots, runners and so on which are cleaned and sold at a discounted price,
• big brand companies donate their overstock which is sold at half the retail cost, and
• second hand and new sports clothing, equipment and so on are also sold at a reduced price.

The charity sends sports equipment to under-privileged communities throughout Australia. The week before we visited they had sent out 500 pairs of footy boots/runners. They use the store profits to support their mission. The store is run by volunteers and offers training opportunities.

For $130 we bought four pairs of runners, one pair of footy boots and a football! Shopping there really felt like a win all round. To find out more about shopping or donating go to

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