Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to save money by thinking ahead

Today I'm going to make another post dedicated to saving money, as I realise I've wandered off course a bit recently. So, my topic for today is how to save money by thinking ahead and planning. Now I don't mean budgetting, because we all know about that, I'm talking about the 6 P's (7 if you're an adult, but this is a child friendly zone!). Prior planning and preparation prevents poor performace. I'm not sure who coined that phrase, but it is one of the better phrases that was taught to me by my father. So let me give you a few examples.

When I was younger, getting my learner's license for driving, I was quite lazy. The policy where I am from is that you have to log 100 hours of driving time, before you can take your test and become a full license holder. I was extremely lazy, and after 3 years I still hadn't logged my 100 hours, so it came the time to renew my license. $120 down the drain, for a 3 year license renewal, which I barely needed 6 months of, because soon after that I took my test and got my full license. If I had been less lazy, and thoguht ahead, that's $120 extra I could have had in my pocket!

Let me give you another example. One of the guys I used to live with, one whim, went to the local music store, and came home with a brand new $1400 guitar. By itself there's nothing wrong with that, but 3 months later, he decided he didn't like it. Now, everyone knows that as soon as something is owned by someone, and takes on the "second hand" title, it's immediately worth less. If he had made a sensible decision, and thought ahead, he wouldn't be $400+ out of pocket.

Really, these are simple ideas. I can't think of the number of times myself, or someone I know, has been caught out by not thinking ahead, and it can be very costly. If you want to save money, this really is a great place to start! Budgetting is all well and good, but if you can plan ahead, understand what you are going to need, when you are going to need it, and make sensible decisions, you wont have any trouble saving money.

Live simply, plan ahead, save money!

Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a FortuneFrugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune

How to Save Money when Times are ToughHow to Save Money when Times are Tough

How to be assertive

As a child I was often told by my father that I had to be more assertive. Only recently have I really begun to understand what this means. I came to realise that there is a difference between being assertive in a "nice guy" sense, and being assertive in a respectful sense. I have also learned that you aren't going to get anywhere being a nice guy. This doesn't mean you have to become a jerk, and I will explain to you what I mean as I get further into this post.

Assertiveness really is a skill that is going to help you save money, live happier, and of course help you get your own way. The way to be assertive is to consider yourself in the other person's shoes. They don't want Mr Bossy coming in, telling them what they want, and how they want it. If you do this, chances are you're not going to get your way.

To be assertive, you really need to practise the art of being respectful. By this I mean showing respect for others, but at the same time requesting (not demanding!) respect for yourself. The combination of both of these skills will really help you in the future, in all walks of life. Let me give you some examples.

Let's say you're in line at your favourite fast food restaurant, and you finally recieve your order, but to your dismay, one of the items you ordered is missing.

Now at this point, you have 3 choices.

Option 1: walk away and ignore it. It's alright, they gave you the wrong food, but that's ok, I will just eat my other food. In some cases, I would recommend this option. If it's extremely busy, and you haven't been robbed of anything significant (i.e. if you ordered 3 sauces, and you only got 2, and you've only lost a few cents). The amount of time you have to spend waiting to have your ordered correctly, just may not be worth it.

Option 2: abuse the staff, and demand the problem be fixed. Never do this. I've seen it happen before too many times, and it's just painful. For both parties invovled, and any casual observers, it really is just terrible to have to deal with.

Option 3: Go back to the staff, politely tell them they have made a mistake, ask for the problem to be rectified. This is being assertive. You are getting what you want, but you are doing it in a sensible, rspectful fashion. You haven't caused a scene, both parties are left with their self respect, and you have achieved what you wanted to. This is the sort of model you want to apply to your daily life, it will improve your self esteem, and make you happier.

Now, moving right along, I want to explain how being assertive is going to help you with saving money (afterall, this blog is based around saving money!). My father was one of these people who had no shame when he bought something, he could take himself to such a low level of embarassment, and come out the other end with his self respect, and having haggled to the point where he had saved an impressive amount. Fundamentally, this comes down to self confidence, and assertiveness. You don't have to quite take it to the level where your children are watching and trying to hide their faces, but you can use this to help you save money, and train yourself to be more assertive.

This can also be applied in your career development. Employers are always looking for employees who are dominant and impressive in their field of work, but respectful and thoughtful. You need to be willing to put yourself above others to succeed. I know this sounds controversial, but it's true. Those who want to succeed, will, even if it takes ruthless determination, and even if they have to step on a few toes. You need to put yourself in this category, but I urge you to do it in a way such that you don't ruin your reputation, and you maintain your morals and self respect.

This is how you become more assertive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to survive the coming apocalypse-financially

It seems that every time I look around, or turn on the tv, I get bombarded with news about the state of the global economy, and conflicting messages about how "your money is safe, and you have nothing to worry about" and "economists are predicting hard times ahead, potentially as bad as the depression in the 1920's". Even if these seemingly pessimistic predictions turn out to be incorrect (which is entirely possible. I'm not here to spew doomsday messages, I'm here to inform!), it definitely seems like a good time to start to prepare some emergency funds and plan for whatever may come. As famously put, "hope for the best, expect the worst!".

The first thing I suggest you do, if you don't already own one, is to purchase a strong, fireproof safe, and find a suitable place to hide it in your house. It needs to be hidden enough so that if someone breaks it, it wont be stolen, but at the same time it needs to be in a place where it would be easy to recover in the case of a fire or collapse of the house (however that may happen). Many people I know simply use a tin or a money box for their valuables, and to be honest, this isn't really good enough. I can't stress enough how important it is to have a safe.

Now, I want to you learn how to open that safe, and memorise it. There's no use having a page hidden in your desk which describes how to open it if your house burns down and you can't find it to read it.

The next thing to do is to sit down, and plan exactly how much you would need to survive for a few months. Yes, a few months. It may seem unreasonable, but if there was an extreme financial collapse, and the banks closed, it could be potentially months before you can remove money. You need to be able to cut your spending substantially, and ration your cash reasonably. So what I am suggesting is that you go and remove cash from your bank, and put it in your safe. Don't do the typical "hide it under your matress" or similar techniques. Buy the safe. Spend the money, and you can have peace of mind. The amount of cash you put in the safe depends on how much you would spend in that situation, and how many people you would need to financially support. If you need to support your whole family, obviously you're going to need more.

If you can't afford to remove a lump sum from your bank account, then start putting away a few dollars a day. The way my parents used to do it is that anything that was saved during the week, was split into a cash storage safe, and put into the bank. As their income increased, this changed, but while they were earning smaller amounts this was the most effective way to do it. This is where any tips I have previously provided for saving money will come in handy.

By the end of your saving, you should have a large sum of money (for my parents, after quite a substantial amount of time, it was upwards of $20,000, although this was for use in a scenario where 5 family members, plus possible extended family, may need to be supported, and the amount you require will obviously be different).

Now, I am sure there are many of you reading this who are thinking "this is ridiculous, there's no way the economy is ever going to get that bad". Well, for all of you out there thinking that, do whatever you want. Don't put any money away. Live your day to day lives as if no bad can ever happen, and don't prepare for the worst. However, if the worst does occur, don't go running to your family and friends requesting money or food. You will have brought it upon yourself. It's like the story of the 3 pigs. Only one of them was prepared for the wold, and he had to support the other 2 when their happy little bubbles popped and they were thrown into chaos. Don't be the 2 stupid pigs. Be the clever one. And when those 2 pigs come knocking, send them on their way, because you're going to have more important things to worry about than helping them out of the situation they got themselves into.

I'm not preaching the end of the world, or telling you what is going to happen in the future. I just want you to be prepared. What's the worst that can happen with a large sum of cash hidden in your fireproof, lockable safe? You have to put it back in the bank in the future? Oh, catastrophe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saving money on entertainment

Hello my lovely chocolate buttons!

Today I thought I would talk about saving money on entertainment. I have already posted about saving money on hobbies, which you can visit by clicking here. This time, however, I am going to talk about one of the areas which will either cost you a fortune, or cost you nothing. Entertainment.

I have friends who seem unable to find something to do within their own home. Without fail, once a week, I will get a call from atleast one of these friends asking me to "go to the movies" or "go out for a drink". This may sound harmless enough, but for someone trying to live simply and cheaply, getting into the habit of finding external sources for your entertainment is going to be extremely costly.

What I challenge you to do is find a method of entertaining yourself that does not involve spending money with other people. The problem with having a social life, from personal experience, is that it burns deep holes in your pockets. You're always encouraged to buy lunch, or buy that pair of shoes your friend recommends, and this is why I urge you to find ways to entertain yourself without needing to be with other people.

Read books online, watch movies online, find a hobby such as craft or gardening which has the potential to return profits, or save you money in other ways, start exercising (at home of course, gym memberships are extremely expensive). Why not try your hand at baking or cooking? What about learning music, or writing a book? Hell, why not even try blogging? It's cheap, entertaining, has the potential to earn you money, and it's very satisfying.

Now, I'm not telling you to lock yourself in your house and alienate yourself from society. Go out with your friends sometimes, spend a little bit of money, but you shouldn't have to rely on that weekend shopping spree, or the thursday night movie and pizza session.

One of the easiest ways to prevent yourself from spending money when out with your friends, is simply to just not carry any. Keep your pockets empty, don't carry cash, or alternatively, leave your cards at home and only carry a $20 note. Budgetting while shopping is going to save you a fortune. I posted about this technique in January here.

Happy saving!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

3 ways to save money on your mobile phone bill

Today I would like to mention saving money on your mobile phone bill by using the following few tips:

1. Use it less! 

So I realise that this is extremely obvious, but it's astounding the number of people who don't take this into consideration when looking for ways to save money. The easiest way to spend less on your mobile phone bill is to simply avoid using it as often. Now I realise that mobile phones are a fantastic device, and extremely important in most day to day life, but do you really need to send that simple 1 worded text that only says "ok"? Do you really need to vote for your favourite singer on american idol? Do you really need to get your daily horoscopes texted to you? These are the sorts of things I am talking about.

Instead of having a texting conversation with your friend, why not use something like skype, or MSN? It's cheaper and it's easier. If your friends are trying to start a conversation with you, give them a short answer to their question, and say something along the lines of "I can't really talk at the moment, it's very busy at work/university/wherever you are. How about we have a conversation on skype tonight?". I can guarantee you will save a fortune on your monthly bills if you do this.

2. Take advantage of what you have!

Everyone seems to brag about the features of their phone plan, but many people don't use it to it's full potential. If you have an hour a day where you get half price calls, make all your phone calls in that hour. If you get 50 free texts, use all 50, and try not to use more than that. It really is very simple, and you will save money!

3. Shop around for a better deal!

This money saving tip is extremely obvious. Always keep an eye out for a better deal. If it makes sense, change to the better deal to save money. Also, be mindful of any expenses you have to pay to break the contract, and calculate whether or not it's worth changing over if you have to pay the fee. In the long run, it may be cheaper to bite the bullet, pay the fee, and move on!

Hopefully these tips are helpful, they will certainly save you some money!

Coming back to life!

Hello to all my viewers!

It's been a while since my last post, since I've gone back to studying and have been incredibly busy, as well as having to deal with some issues in my life, so I would like to apologise for that.

I intend to begin writing regularly on this blog again, in an attempt to both expand the blog, as well as provide some great information to you readers out there! I intend to set myself reasonable goals to try and get myself back into the habit of writing new content regularly, and passing on my experience with saving money.

Today, I would like to talk about exercise.

It seems that in recent years, the "gym mentality" has really become quite popular. I don't know why this has come about, but in the past, if you wanted to get fit, you didn't need to do it in an environment where you had people watching you, and where you had to pay for a membership. What ever happened to the old days of hard work, and regular exercise in simple forms?

As a student, I am very pressured by my peers to join a gym and "improve my body". It seems to be the most popular thing to do at the moment. However, gym memberships are very costly. I began to research other options, and there are absolutely abundant resources providing details for the correct exercises, instructional videos, and extremely cheap alternatives to a gym membership. All it requires is a little bit of self motivation, and the exact same results can be achieved.

I encourage you all to do some research and consider your options, before purchasing a gym membership.

I will give you an example. My father is a pilot, ex airforce. Throughout his entire life (both for his work, and his own personal pleasure), he has been remarkably fit (even now as a man in his 50s he could still outrun most 20 year olds). He has always been a strong, fit man, and only in the last few years has purchased an exercise machine. Prior to that, all his exercise came from running, and basic home exercises, as well as his own home renovations. Between the exercise machine (which he rarely uses!), renovation projects, and his jogging, he has remained extremely fit, and spent very little money.

This is the sort of lifestyle which I encourage. Saving money, and saving your body. With enough research, planning, and self motivation, you can achieve anything you want to, and I wish more people would believe this about themselves. It has taken me a long time, and much self doubt, to come to this realisation, and I can only wish for others to believe the same.

So in summary, thanks to all my viewers, and sorry that I haven't been posting more regularly.  I will start posting frequently, and continuing to expand this site, and all I ask is that you tell other people about me, pass on the URL, spread the word.

As usual, feel free to comment! I will reply to all comments, and I would love to hear some suggestions from all of you for money saving tips.

Happy saving!

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Shopping Tips- Save Money Shopping

Hello again, sorry this post has come a bit late, but I've had a bit of a busy week. Today I want to talk about shopping again, as I feel that there is something that I haven't brushed on yet.

There are many people I know who tend to shop at specialty stores. For example, I was recently looking to buy small wall mirror to hang in my bedroom, and a friend recommended I check in the local home maker store. When I got in there, while I admit they had an astonishing variety of mirrors, the price was completely illogical. I could never imagine spending so much on something so simple. I decided to use the age old technique of searching super stores.

By super store I mean stores that sell a huge range of items, from linen to shoes, to dvds. In Australia stores such as Big W, Kmart and Target come to mind. When I did search one of these stores, although the variety of mirrors was somewhat smaller, the prices were much more appealing. I ended up saving something like $40 just by visiting a different store.

I highly recommend that you try and visit these stores as an alternative to buying from specialty stores. They have the potential to save you a lot of money, and you will not regret it.

Happy shopping!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Save Money on Transport

Since I have recently move back into the city, I have once again been exposed to the daily commute. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about something most of you will have already heard of. Public Transport.

Like it, or hate it, public transport serves thousands of people daily, and many are very happy with their chosen transport. The benefits inclue both saving the environment, and your wallet. The amount of money you save can be very impressive.

If you drive into the city every day, chances are you will most likely have to pay for a parking permit. These can be quite costly (up to around $420 a month for an inner city car park here), and even excluding the amount you spend on petrol, just by taking public transport you can save money every day.

If you were to simply go into the city by train, then back out by train (for arguments sake) you will only spend around $4.00 a day. Very cheap.

I challenge you to investigate your options, and try public transport. You don't have to go all out, and sell your car, just use public transport for your commute, and that way you spend less running your car.  It really is a great option if you want to save money.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Save Money-Hobbies

Hello again everyone!

One of the areas where I see people spend a lot of their hard earned money is on their hobbies. An example of this is my cousin who is very keen on building and racing model boats. His hobby eats up a huge amount of his savings. Today I want you to think about your hobby, and think about how much you spend on it.

My personal hobby is playing guitar. Over around 6 years I have spent approximately $2500 on products to fuel my hobby. I know people who spend a lot more than what I have spent.

A good hobby is one that you enjoy, and doesn't cost you a fortune. An excellent hobby is one that earns you money back. If crafting/scrapbooking is your hobby, there is potential for you to sell what you make. If I wanted to, I could join a band and play at weddings or at bars to earn back a little bit of money. The possibilities are endless.

I just want you to really think about what it is you love doing, and try and establish ways for you to save money while doing, and if you are really good, you can use your hobby to earn you money.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Easy Way to Save Money- The Everyday Dollar Jar

Today I have decided to mention an old concept, very similar to the piggy bank. Every day, when you come home from work, or university, put left over change from the day into a jar. Ideally, you should put in around a dollar a day (although more is great!). If you get into the habit of doing this, even just putting in $1 a day is enough for you to buy yourself something pretty substantial at the end of the year. $365 has come your way without really cutting in on your other spending. If you save a couple of dollars a day, the results could be amazing. This could basically for the years Christmas present, allowing you to feel free from the stress of finding money for Christmas.

The way we used to do it when I was a child, was that whenever there was spare change left over, it would be placed in a jar in a cupboard in the kitchen. Once every week or so we were allowed to take a couple of dollars from the jar to spend at the school canteen. This is a great way of keeping your kids happy in terms of them wanting to purchase items from the canteen.

Whenever we cleaned out the car, any loose coins found also went into the jar, so naturally the amount of money in the jar quickly accumulates.

Obviously there are a few variations on this idea including a few which are dedicated to helping pay off chunks of the mortgage, but I will allow you to develop your own tricks to help you save money this way.

Happy saving!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Junk Removal- Earning money back

Today I thought I would steer a little bit away from the saving money aspect of my site, and point you in the direction of earning money. Rather than send you to some scam website about how to make money online, I am going to talk about what you can do around the house that will help you earn back a little bit of money.

1. Sell some of that junk. Everyone has junk in their house that they are no longer using, and believe it or not, you don't just have to throw it out or donate it. Ebay is a great place for you to get rid of some of your old items that you don't want any more. Provided they are in fairly good condition, and you follow the ebay rules, selling items on ebay is a piece of cake. Simply take a couple of photos, write a short description, and wait for the buyers.

If you are not particularly ebay savvy, or you would rather not go down that path, then a garage sale is the next best thing. Put up signs around your neighbourhood, and put an ad in the local paper, and you will have plenty of people who show up for a bargain.

2. If you have old mobile phones sitting in a drawer, then you should consider selling these to companies that purchase old phones. Websites such as mazuma mobile (for australia) purchase your old phones, where they then recycle them or re sell them. If you want to visit mazuma, you can click here.

3. Why not consider participating in the local markets, and selling something that you create? A good example of this are craft/scrap booking products. If you have spare time, and a hobby such as knitting or craft or even woodworking, then this may benefit you.

Hopefully these tips have been helpful, and I know they aren't exactly about saving money, but I thought it would be a good idea to share them.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Save Money- Home Brew

After visiting the local bottle shop about a year ago, I came to realise how expensive it is just for a couple of beers to go with dinner. I also came to realise that if I spent more time at parties I would probably be completely broke. I decided to explore the option of brewing my own beer, both to save money, and as a hobby. My father had been brewing beer for quite some years, so after consulting him (and th elocal home brew store) I started my first batch. Surprisingly, it was quite good, and extremely simple. After doing some calculations, I realised that being able to make around 20 litres of beer for around about $20, even including the cost of the kit itself, that this was definitely going to save a lot of money, even though I am not a big drinker.

Since I first tried making home brew, I have made several batches, and I am enjoying both the beer and the hobby itself.

For those who are interested in saving money by brewing your own beer, you can check out this site. It goes through step by step how to start brewing, and how to make your first batch. It's very easy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Save Money with DIY Projects

Many people will refuse to take on a do it yourself project for fear of either not knowing how to start, or the fear that they do not have the skills to do it. Today I want to challenge you to give it a try. Not only does it teach you valuable skills, it can also save you a lot of money!

Many people have difficulty getting started when it comes to DIY. To make this easier, I suggest trying to find a resource that has step by step instructions for you to follow. You can find these in book stores, or can purchase them online. The investment is definitely worth it, and I am sure that you will enjoy seeing the results after you put in the work. I can assure you that seeing the finished product is one of the greatest feelings you will ever experience, especially if it took you a long time to complete.

I have included a link in the side bar to the right that will take you to a website which sells software with around 14000 different plans for projects which will help you with both the actual building and the preparations. It is definitely worth looking into. If you can't find it in the side bar, you can just click here.

Save Money on Take-Away Food

Everyone has nights where they come home after work or university and are so exhausted that they do not want to cook. Usually this turns into getting take away food, which can be quiet an expensive exercise.

My recommendations to save money but still enjoy take-away food are:

1. Rather than completely removing take away foods from the equation (which is entirely pheasible, but not entirely deseriable), you should consider arranging the days you get take away food so that they coincide with cheap specials, allowing you to save. For example, the local pizza take-away store near where I live has a day where the pizzas are around $4 cheaper each. If you have to feed a family of 4, this is going to be a saving of $16 or more.

2. Avoid getting extras that are not necessary. For example, why pay for a bottle of soft drink when you have soft drink at home? I have seen people fall into this trap countless times. They think that because they get extras, they are getting a better deal. Obviously soft drink is not the only extra I suggest you stay away from, and if you like a bottle of soft drink, go ahead and get it, but is that desert that is included for only a few dollars extra really needed? I challenge you to make logical decisions to allow you to save money every time.

3. If feeding a family, rather than organising 4 (or however many) meals separately, order a family pack, and add extra food only if required. These are considerably cheaper. For example, when I was growing up, when we got take away it was a red rooster family pack with an extra family fries. The extra family fries was required because for a family of 5, there simply were not enough fries for everyone. We payed something like $32 for this meal, but when you consider the cost of ordering separately, if everyone gets a meal worth $10 (around the average price) then we would have been paying $50 plus. The moral of this story is that you should consider how many people you are feeding, and always look to get the better deal.

If you follow these steps, you can still have that enjoyable occasional take-out meal, without blowing the budget. These tips will allow you to save money easily, and still allow you to have your occasional treat.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Economically Driven- 4 simple ways to save fuel and save money!

Hey again everyone.

While on the subject of cars, I decided I should give economical driving a mention, as it can really save you money if you are willing to change your habits and drive to save. I have prepared the following checklist for what you can do to drive more economically.

1. Cut down on the extra weight. More weight means more friction, and more mass you have to get moving. For example, if you drive a car with a big tool box in the back (I am thinking trades people here), which is only used once every few weeks, just removing that could cut down on the amount of fuel you use. This one isn't as important as the ones to follow, but it is worth considering.

2. Velocity and acceleration. These 2 are very important factors. Firstly, by pushing your car to go faster than it wants to, you will burn more fuel to provide the extra power. For example, driving at 110km/h will consume more fuel than cruising at 100km/h. Unless you are going a large distance (100 kilometres or more and you will notice a difference), the extra 10km/h will save you only 6 minutes (over 100 kilometres), so if you only need to go 15 kilometres on the highway, the amount of time you save is negligible.

Acceleration is the next key point. To make the car accelerate, obviously you have to feed it more fuel. If you accelerate to 60 along a small road, with a red light ahead, and then have to break again, you will waste fuel. When you think about it this way, it doesn't make sense. Why accelerate irrationally towards a red light, where you have to stop? Just cruise up to it. If you make this a habit, I can guarantee you will save petrol.

3. Which car? We have already spoken about this in the last posts, but choosing an economical car is obviously one of the most important factors. If you buy a v8 4 wheel drive just to cruise around the town, you are burning a lot more fuel to move the 2 tonnes or more of car beneath you. If you choose a smaller car, you have less mass to move, so you burn less fuel. Obviously there is more to it than this, but I don't want to bore you with specifications etc because I know that's not going to help. Just choose wisely.

4. Ride height. For some reason it seems to be fashionable to buy a 4wd, and raise it up off the ground higher than it already is. The strange thing is, I usually see this in the city. Firstly, I don't understand why city kids want to do this, especially since the roughest roads they are likely to come across are probably the speed bumps in the local car park, but I wont rant about it for too long. Unless you actually need a serious 4 wheel drive car, with raise suspension for huge clearance, there is no point in doing it. Think about it, you burn more fuel because you change the natural flow of the air (as it was designed in the factory), and you can't get into low roofed car parks. To me, it is a waste of money.

Well, I think that's about it as I can't think of anything else worth talking about in this topic. If you take all of these into consideration I can guarantee you will make your car last longer, and save money in the process. Definitely worth a try!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

3 ways to save money when buying a second hand car

It is very easy to save money simply by buying a used car rather than a new one. One of the most astounding things about buying a new car is that as soon as you sign, and drive it off the showroom floor, you immediately lose money, simply because the car is no longer "new". Every year, depreciation costs from the new car will set you back. This costs may not be obvious, because they don't really fit under the category of normal car costs (like fuel etc), but I am sure that once you come to sell the car, you will realise. Here are 3 tips to allow you to save money on your second hand car:

1. Do your research. Find a car that is reliable, has a good reputation, and is fairly economical. This is the most important step, because if you buy a second hand car which has a reputation for breaking down, then the problems will only get worse in it's old age. Find out exactly what can go wrong with the car, and when you inspect the car, look for those problems.

2.Negotiate a better deal. When buying a second hand car, always try and knock a little bit off the cost. Point out that slight defect and talk about how you will have to pay to fix it, and that you feel some off the costs for that should come off the price of the car. Remember, if you can save $500 here, that's $500 that can go towards fuel or insurance costs, which means $500 you don't have to spend later.

3. Take it for a test drive, and make the owner drive it in front of you aswell. This one may seem a little strange, but watching how the owner drives will really give you an idea of how healthy the car is. For example, an owner who drives with his or her foot on the clutch the whole time indicates that you are most likely going to have wearing problems in the clutch mechanism. An owner that accelerates excessively towards a red light, and brakes hard, indicates that you will probably have to replace the brakes eventually, unless of course they have already been done. There are plenty of great resources that will tell you exactly what to look for, and if you follow the instructions, you could save yourself a lot of money on the possible repair costs. I wil include a link here to a great site which goes into a lot of detail for car inspections.

Hopefully these tips are useful, I am sure they will allow you to save a lot of money, as I know they have worked for many of my relatives.

Monday, February 7, 2011

From the Author

Hey all!

Just a quick post to remind you that all comments are welcome. Feel free to tell your friends about this site, as I'm sure many of them will find it helpful too, and any extra views are greatly appreciated. If anyone has any feed back, I would love to hear it, just post a comment somewhere and I will do my best to do as you ask. I am here, after all, to help you guys.

Feel free to donate, and if you don't want to donate, any clicks on my ads will help out a lot, as I am sure you realise this blog takes up a fair bit of my time.

Once again, thanks for reading, and I hope you take away something helpful from it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Save Money on Subscriptions

Hi again everyone!

Today I decided I would talk about subscriptions. Many people lose track of things they are paying for. For example, there have been times where my parents have been paying for certain channels on T.V. without realising they weren't using them.

Today I want you to assess your subscriptions, and decide whether they are really necessary. This can mean anything from video games, television channels, magazines, newspapers etc. If you pay for a newspaper, why not visit news websites instead? They are free, and are updated regularly during the day, so you get news as it comes, rather than once each morning.  This could save you a couple of dollars a day, which over a year is definitely worth the change.

Make the effort to determine what you need, and what you don't. The amount you save will probably startle you!

It is very easy to look through the channels you have subscribed to with your pay-tv, and it could save you hundreds.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Saving Money with Ebay

I am sure everyone out there knows someone who enjoys video games, whether that be your child or housemate, there are gamers everywhere. Unfortunately those new games can be pretty costly, usually nearly $100. My tip for today will allow you to easily save 30-40% of that, just by being slightly patient. This hint not only applies to gamers, but people who buy new release dvds, books, etc. You can all benefit and save plenty of money!

When a game is first released, the price is significantly marked up. However, if you are willing to wait for 2-3 weeks, you can easily get the game $20-$30 cheaper. For a student or a family on a low income, this could be 2-3 hours extra that you don't have to work to afford it.

If you want the product even cheaper, check out ebay (or other online stores). I have saved 50% of a game's value just by waiting 2 weeks, and then buying on ebay rather than in a store at the local shops. If you are worried about a person's authenticity on ebay, stick to ebay stores. These are very easy to find, simply by searching the product you want, and browsing until you find one. If you get into the habit of browsing ebay for the product you want, you may find a bargain! Of course, the same old story applies, don't fall into the traps that could potentially be there. If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cheap Chocolatey Goodness

Hello everyone!

I recently realised that I am always spending money on snacks and sweets for my after dinner desert. I am sure this problem affects a lot of you out there, so I decided to post my favourite cheap and quick recipe, guaranteed to satisfy that craving. I can't remember where I first heard this recipe, but I have since memorised it, and it only takes a couple of minutes to make.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
spash of vanilla essence

Very simple, just add all the ingredients into a large microwave proof mug, stir well, and put in the microwave. Cooking time varies depending on the strenght of the microwave, so I suggest just cooking it for 1 minute for starters, and then cooking it more gradually until it is ready. When it is ready you should be able to stick a knife into it and it will come out practically clean. Do not overcook it, because it will become rubbery.

Hopefully you enjoy this as much as I do. It will save you money, especially if you tend to buy chocolates etc to eat after dinner.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saving Money Shopping

Hello again.

Today, after doing my grocery shopping, I decided I would make a simple (and somewhat obvious) post about shopping, and I can guarantee that these tips will help you save money shopping!

Firstly, whenever I go to the shops, I go for a reason. Many people I know have fallen victim to the shopping culture, where they spend half a day at the shops as a past time. This encourages needless spending. What began as a "browsing" trip, soon turns into buying yourself something you didn't need, going out for lunch, etc. If you want to save money, avoid going to the shops unless it is necessary. When you need something, you will know you need to make a trip to the shops. You will be surprised what you can go without when you don't think about it.

Secondly, spend wisely. Why buy a special packet of something (for example, a packet of lettuce leaves) when you pay more than you would if you just bought a head of lettuce? You pay less, and you will get more. This can be applied to a number of products. Sandwich ham is a great example of this. Many people refuse to eat any ham that hasn't been bought from the deli section. One of my friends has worked in the deli section of the local super market, and he tells me that the ham that is sliced in the deli is the same as the chunk of ham you can buy unsliced, with the only difference being the price.

Hopefully this was helpful. I apply these ideas constantly and it definitely works.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Savings

Today I was reminded that the local book festival (the "Lifeline Bookfest") was due to open soon, and I thought that this would be a great topic to post about.

Throughout my life I have been a fairly heavy reader, and for any other readers out there, you probably know that this can turn into a fairly expensive hobby. My usual method for saving money on reading (and obviously a fairly popular method) was to visit the local library and use a "try before I buy" technique, where I only purchased books I knew I would re-read many times. This method is quite succesful, but I want to put forward another possible method. Second hand books.

Nearly all towns have a second hand book shop of some sort, and quite often these are run for charity (in Australia think of organisations such as The Salvation Army, or Saint Vinnie's). Second hand book stores at school fairs are also a great place to get your hands on books. Not only does this allow you to buy books you have wanted for a while, but also allows you to explore new books.

This is great for students trying to find textbooks too. My textbook bills have been as much as $400 (for only 4 books), so getting even one of these at a cheaper price is definitely worth the effort.

Purchasing second hand books means that aswell as saving money yourself (and the savings can be fairly remarkable; at the local "bookfest" twice a year, good quality books can be as cheap as $2), the money you do spend is atleast going to an organisation that can benefit from it, rather than a large company.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Save Money by Using Google

I can't tell you the number of times a friend or member of my family has noticed that something they own isn't working as well as they wanted, and they have simply thrown it away or immediately taken it in to be repaired. An example of this is a computer problem we, which prevented it from starting up. One of the people who noticed the problem immediately gave up, and began making plans for it to be taken in to be serviced. However, when I noticed the computer wasn't working, I went to my laptop and typed the problem it into a search engine. Lo and behold, there were hundreds of pages listing the same problem, and various fixes. After about 15 minutes, and a tiny little bit of tinkering (following the instructions given online of course) the problem was solved.

The point I am trying to make is that before you head out to get your computer, or blender, or whatever it may be  repaired, do a small amount of research on the problem. It takes no more than 10 minutes to assess whether or not you are capable of fixing it, and quite often you will find simple step by step instructions on what to do. If you are unsucessful in your search, then all you have lost is 10 minutes of your time, and you can take it in to be repaired as you had initially planned.

Note: If the product is under warranty, please don't do anything such as pulling it apart and voiding the warranty. If the problem is too complicated, please don't make the situation worse. The point I am trying to make is simply that it may be easy to solve, and it could save you a pretty penny. I take no responsibility for any bad decisions made regarding voiding warranties or further damaging the item.

What's that about?

I thought that it would a good idea to explain what I hope to achieve with this blog before I  posted any more.

As a student I am constantly bombarded with temptations to spend my money,whether that is by advertisements or a friend asking me to go out for a drink. My general goal is to assist you to change your spending habits and better understand what is really worth spending money.

As for the blog, my intention is for it to be run as a sort of question and answer session. I am open to all comments and questions and I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can, as I believe that you as the reader are entitled to that sort of service. It is this aspect of my blog that I hope will set me apart from all the other commercialised money saving sites which spew the same generic content onto the internet. The irony is that on many occasions those websites do not exactly live by their ideals, so to speak, and are covered with ads and content inviting you to work hard to save money, only to spend it on their products etc.

This is not what I want this blog to be about. My aim is to run a free service providing useful information, and hopefully it will stay that way.

As a final note, if anyone has any tips themselves that they would like to share with everyone reading the blog, include them in your comments and I will try to mention them (and attribute them to you of course) in the next couple of posts that follow.

Another fairly lengthy post (sorry again everyone) but I felt I needed to clear this up.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Household tip 1

In the society we live in today, it is very common for a family to have an outside deck or verandah with a barbecue and a table. To all those deck owners, this tip is for you.

Having a deck is a joy, but can be quite costly. A deck in direct sunlight will fade and deteriorate over time and will require oiling or restaining. Depending on the size of the deck, this can quite a costly exercise. Many families I know enlist the "help" of companies which come and oil the deck for them. Today I challenge you to try oiling it yourself. All it takes is a little bit of time, and it could save you hundreds. All the tools required for the job are cheap, and no skill is required. If you are unsure exactly how to go about doing this job, or are unsure what you need, simply consult google, or visit the local hardware store. There is always someone willing to help, it just requires a little bit of effort on your behalf, and the results will be great.

For those of you who claim you do not have the time, I challenge you to make the time. It really does depend on the size of your deck, but the large verandah on our house (which flows around 3 sides of the house) only took us (myself and my brother) a couple of hours. If you enlist the help of a family member, you will be done in no time.

I implore you to give it a try, an extra hundred dollars (potentially even more)  in your wallet is definitely worth the effort.


Many people I know insist that home brand or no-brand products are unhealthy, inferior and “potentially dangerous” products that one should avoid at all costs (one person I know even insisted that home brand products are a leading cause of cancer, which is obviously false!). My challenge to you is to try for yourself!
Next time you are at the supermarket, try purchasing home brand milk instead of that expensive brand. You may find that it is just as good, or even better. I personally prefer a number of home brand products to their expensive brand rivals. In testing this for yourself, one of two things may happen. You may decide that you do not like it, and hence decide not to buy it again, or you may find that it is surprisingly good and definitely worth saving those few dollars!
Let me put it this way. In the first scenario, you may lose a couple of dollars worth of the product if you decide you don't like it and choose to waste it(definitely not reccomended!) and then go back to the original product. You really lose nothing. If you do decide that you prefer the home brand version, or it is just a good, depending on the product you could be saving daily!
One example of this is milk. Depending on prices, our household sometimes saves up to $2 by purchasing home brand milk. As a household of 4 we go through a bottle of milk on a nearly daily basis, this can add up to $10-$14 a week in savings. When this is done with multiple products, the amount you save could be staggering.
So in conclusion, I urge you to take the plunge, and see what these home-brand products have to offer. I’m sure that 9 times out of 10 you will be pleasantly surprised. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained!

4 Simple Ways to Save Money and Stay Healthier

As a commuting student, I have noticed that there is always someone/something nearby that is very willing to take my money, and when the temptation of food or a snack is involved, then the logical money saving side of my brain usually loses out. After falling to the temptations of the vending machine or coffee shop too many times, I realised that it could be easily avoided. I began to mentally formulate several simple ways of saving anywhere from five to twenty dollars a day. Many of you will take these tips for granted, as strategies that you already exercise or have already heard of, but I am posting these for those of you who are new to saving money in simple ways.

1. Pack your own lunch.
I am sure you have all heard this one, but I can’t stress enough how much of a difference it makes. Even eating at a cheap fast food place (let alone that expensive cafe!) will quickly add up to $10 or more, and if you are doing this 5 days a week, that’s $50 you could potentially save. It only takes an extra ten minutes of a morning to make yourself a fresh sandwich, and you will enjoy it just as much as that fatty, unhealthy packet of chips or burger. A hint to keep the sandwich fresh is place dry ingredients closest to the bread. This prevents any wet ingredients, such as sauce, or a juicy tomato, from leaking on to the bread.
2.       2. Take a thermos of coffee.
Almost everyone likes a cup of coffee at work/university, and this really is a wallet buster. I unfortunately got into the habit of buying a cappuccino on the way to uni every morning, and quickly realised this was eating into my bank balance. A coffee will easily set you back $4 or more, a cost of $20 or more a week. I realised that in doing this, I was spending around $600 a year on coffee alone! Even if you simply cut down to having a coffee every second day, I can guarantee you will notice more money left at the end of the week.
3.       3. Get rid of that spare change.
A heavy wallet full of spare change is your greatest enemy. I have found that when I walk past a vending machine with a heavy pocket, I immediately feel the urge to “get rid of some change”. When I walk past a vending machine with only $20 notes in my wallet, I know that I am unable to use them, and the temptation is immediately gone. This tip is both a money and a calorie saver. That pesky snack machine you walk past every day at the train station or at work will always tempt you, but if you know you are physically unable to use it, then you will not be tempted.
4.       4. Idle spending/eating.
For me, this one is a big one. Having to spend time at the train station every day waiting for the train into the city for uni has often left my wallet somewhat emptier. While sitting and waiting, if you notice a snack machine, or a cafe, the natural thing to do is to “fill in some time”. Obviously this is a bad habit I got myself into. Thankfully I am not prone to weight problems, as I am sure this would play an exacerbating role if I was, and I am glad that I have found a solution. Timing my arrival at the station so that I have no more than 5 minutes of waiting time prevents me from making the wait in the line at the cafe, or fumbling in my wallet for spare change for the snack machine.
Hopefully you find these tips helpful, they have definitely saved me a few dollars!

In the beginning...

Hello, and welcome to what I hope will become a helpful handbook for all things saving. I started this blog with the intention of providing tips and tricks for saving, which as a student have provided me with those extra dollars left over at the end of the day.

For some people, making ends meet can be a real challenge, especially single parents raising children or students living without financial support. I was one of the lucky few who did have some financial backing, although I did not rely solely on that to get me through. I have used all the saving and healthy spending tips I provide on this blog, so I am familiar with how well they work and how they have helped me get through.

I would like to point out that many of you will have heard about some of the ideas that I write about (the topic isn't exactly under explored), and I ask that you bear with me, because there will be those out there who are reading about it for the first time, and hopefully the following post will be new to you.

The idea that provides much of the inspiration for the blog is that you do not necessarilly have to earn a larger income to have more money. Saving is the new working.

Thankyou for taking the time to read a somewhat lengthy introduction (and I do apologise for that), and hopefully you will learn something that helps you in the future.