The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The budget.

It was budget night in Australia last night and everyone is talking about it. The summary is everyone is in debt and the country is in debt, basically! And it's not just us every country seems to be! And many are in much worse shape than us. So we are still lucky compared to much of the world and I keep reminding myself about that.

 I thought it is a good time to talk about saving money. A long time ago we went through and axed the big things or a list of them. We axed pay tv, the phone, take aways and a whole list of things. Just like that bam they were gone! And we haven't missed them.

An extremely worthwhile day is to have a day where you ring up everyone like each insurer through to your bank re your credit card interest rate. Really go through everything. Insurers do not reward loyalty. Usually it is cheaper to change insurers every year. A few years ago when I did this the first time I earned $600 in that day! That was a good days work! With health insurance in Australia iselect is good. Like why pay for things you don't need? We don't need to pay for maternity services since I am 50 lol yet we forget to check what we are paying for...

After the obvious big things really it amazes me how it's the little things that add up. On a fantastic blog Money Saving Mom (I have mentioned this before) she has a challenge to save $5000+ a year on little things. Each week she suggests an area to try and save in. Each week you are trying to find $52 in savings either by finding a way to save $1 per week over the year, or $52 in a one off saving or $4 a month somewhere.... as long as it adds up to around $50 per year. It just doesn't sound like much. So it could be buying ONE less coffee per week. Or two less soft drinks.... or whatever! Then you write that down as number one and do that. Then you work out your next one...

Well, I love a challenge! So in my work book I drew up a chart and away I went. With my trusty calculator I worked out all kinds of things. Your tiny spend my seem insignificant but calculate how much per year it is. For instance once a week I was having coffee and cake at a cafe when I shopped. It was almost $8 a pop. mmm $8 x 52 = $416.  So in this one week I axed that and far exceeded my $1 a week new saving. I wrote it in. 

One at a time I far exceeded the $5000 a year target. Now some things that are your true loves, true treats, you can keep! I decided my coffee and cake could go as I saved calories as well. It was a win win really.

Once you get going you are AMAZED how the smallest thing makes a big difference! It was actually fun. 

It is amazing when you think things over in a fresh light and decide something you have been doing or spending on can just go. Just stop doing it! It is a Ta Da! moment for me! 

There is a lot of pressure on people especially parents. School camps are not camps they are in Japan, school formals are the size and expense of a wedding, they have Limo's... teenage girls have waxing and stuff I never had until I was 30 lol. WHERE does the money come from? I guess some people can afford it the others take out another loan. It is really sad and very difficult. How do we opt out of things we cannot afford and be able to say this is not in my budget rather than go further under? Once again Laines Letters taught me about that. She would not voluntarily break her budget. She considered it an important thing for her children to understand how to live within your budget. And she was right.

Keeping everyone fed is one big thing! I have already talked heaps about crock pots and also about soups. Both are so helpful. When I am full and satisfied with healthy food I don't go looking for other stuff either!

As our Grandmothers did use soups to use up all left over vegies and fill up the troops before the more expensive main course. And as portable lunches in a thermo in winter. I will often have a cup of soup mid afternoon as that is when I get hungry. It is so good.

Making left over casseroles (from your big crock pot cook ups) into easy pies means there is no waste and it is stretched to cover other meals. Chicken and veg, beef and mushroom, lamb and tomato... any combination is yummy! Your favourite casserole or stews will make great pies.

A stack of these in the freezer saves on nights that might otherwise end up being takeaway nights.

Using up left overs generally ... keep the fridge organised and go through it to make sure you use things before it's too late. And use what comes your way. I use every apricot from our tree and this gives me food all year round. I have frozen apricot pies, stewed apricots and rows of jam. The jam can fill or glaze a cake, glaze baked chicken drumsticks, make a jam tart, top scones or pancakes.... 

If I see fruit or vegies for under a dollar a kilo I treat it like this and see how much I can do with it! My friend Helen is like this. She will find a special and stock up. She recently worked through something like 100 avocados' she was given for free! She was so excited! 

Use what is in season and on special. Two weeks ago I got broccoli in a big bag, it was about a dollar a kilo. Yesterday it was $7 a kilo. So no I moved on and stayed in my under $3 a kilo rule and found mushrooms for that and also pears, apples, pumpkin and parsnips. 

Making my own cards, gift boxes and bags is a huge saving for me. Lovely cards are close to $10 now. I saw one the other day for $12! I look for ideas...  so if you make a beautiful card count it as $10! (I am working on a super easy tutorial for this)

Make your own gifts. Seriously gift giving got out of control. Mostly if you were to bake someone a birthday cake they would love you forever and it might cost $5 at most. Or make a tray of cup cakes. It will be a smash hit!

Be confident and value your work like the world does. One dozen cup cakes at the shop down the road would be over $50. 

Remember my cake for Chloe's birthday? It cost about $6 to put together and she loved it (and I cheated)

Despite that is was memorable and a hit!

And making gifts. Happily hand made is cool. I post about things I've made all the time. Like the rug I finished the other day, imagine giving one to your Gran as a gift or for a baby or your Mum for Mothers Day. Whatever it is work all year around and you will have plenty of gifts. A little while ago I made vintage fabric scraps into heart shaped pot holders for my friends who have pretty kitchens. I really loved them. They were almost free to make and they were such a success! I made another lot and added cookie cutters or heart shaped measuring cups as kitchen gifts.

Just now I am working on pretty t towels since they are so hard to buy. A stack of those will help my present cupboard.

A use it up challenge of your fabric/yarn or whatever supplies you have collected can produce lots of gifts and useful things!

I am going to leave you with a recipe that is a huge money saver. HUGE. It fills up bellies. 
I used to use a recipe called Laurens Marvellous Muffins which was great and over time I changed it slightly. For tiny kids use baby muffin trays, for teenage boys use giant muffin trays and just adjust your cooking tim. Once they have risen just test with a skewer. If it comes out clean you're done. This recipe uses up left overs and is sweet or savoury. I would multiply it several times and keep spares in the freezer. They can be used for work or school lunches, warmed for breakfasts (that are transportable) served with soup to bulk it out...  I prefer to use muffin paper liners as they come out easier.

2 cups SR flour, can be wholemeal.
3/4 cups sugar, any kind.
1/2 cup oil or butter or margarine,
1 egg. 
1/2 milk.

Bake medium oven until risen and golden. 

So this is the sweet version. Now add in what you have. If you have cheap apples or pears, chop them and chuck in a cup or more. OR sultanas, walnuts, a blob of jam, choc chips, left over tinned fruit, a banana, left over breakfast cereal (could use as topping) left over yoghurt, really anything! It is very forgiving. If you add a lot of dry ingredients add a bit more milk. If you are adding a lot of wet ingredients add a bit more flour. They will turn out fine! The point is to use stuff up and turn it into a great pile of warm useful muffins! If you want them to look fancy sprinkle with icing sugar.

If you want to make savoury leave out the sugar and add... left over grated cheese, or corn, or bacon, ham or a combination of this and that. They can be served on the side with soup or sent as lunch.

I do the same thing with scones. Make sweet and add sultanas or dates or have them plain or savoury and add cheese, chives, pumpkin... and both are great stretchers of meals!

And never throw out  slice of bread. If you don't use it all freeze it to stop any waste. If you only use bread for toast don't pay for fresh bread as you are going to toast it! 

Well, that is enough from me for one day! Don't be discouraged. Be encouraged. See how many ways you can save $1 a week and let me know your good ideas! xxx


  1. Great post Annabel, thanks for reminding me of all those small savings that can be made, now to grab a notepad and write them all down x

    1. Thanks Jacqui. I am re doing this as well, even though I found 52 things last round here goes another round! xxx

  2. Your pot holders are so adorable Annabel. xo

    Well, there will be a lot of belt tightening in this country for sure. I have been adjusting some areas of my budget already today in preparedness for those cuts coming into effect that will affect us as a family. I will be getting some of the insurances and utility bills out for review and cost cutting. I'll be looking at new ways to trim everything in my budget to fit our reduced income, and also ways to increase our income as well ;)

    I'm looking forward to the sharing of ideas everyone comes up with for cost cutting.

    1. Hi Kaye. The increased cost of prescriptions is one that is really going to get us. Before it kicks in Ill be doing lots of research. We come in just under the safety net, usually. We can get our heads together! xxx


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