Friday, May 31, 2013

The Shoestring Budget

Saving with Less

Who doesn't love saving money? Whether you have something particular you are saving for or you really just love saving money, I've listed below a few ways we have cut back our expenses and as such, saved ourselves a few dollars

Grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of water) get comfortable and let's start saving
  • Reduce the amount of times you eat out: We will generally have pizza once a fortnight and aim to have it on 'Cheap Tuesday' where the general deal at our store is $18 for 2 pizzas, a 1.25L drink and a garlic bread. This guarantees us leftovers for the next day as well. 
  • Get maximum wear out of your wardrobe. I purchased a sewing machine a few months ago and have been slowly (but surely) teaching myself how to sew ever since. My first DIY wardrobe project was taking my straight leg jeans into skinny jeans via a free tutorial online. It was a success. 
My most comfortable flats cost $2 from a Kmart clearance rack

Teaching myself to sew is both interesting and fun
  • Just Say No to Things. There will always be great offers and bargains to be had, but this doesn't mean every sale needs you to get out your wallet. It's great for you (and your budget) to say no.
  • Keep Makeup simple: I get it, makeup is non negotiable to a lot of us on a budget, it can't be left out of the budget. Seriously though, how many shades of nude or red does one person need though?
  • Keep an inventory list of the items you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. These inventory lists are the first point of contact I have when it comes to Menu Planning. It allows me to see what we have, and from those items I get inspiration for our weekly menu. I keep these lists in my Meal Planning Binder.

  • Try to have a luxury at home such as DIY hair colour or cut: be careful with both of these though I've blogged about Home Haircuts Before and Drugstore Makeovers, both of which I have tried and tested many times on myself. It doesn't have to be hair related, remember you can have at home spa days, manicures, pedicures etc. Just by choosing to do 1 of these at home you will be saving yourself a lot of $$ for the year.
Home Haircuts are the norm in our household
  • Aim to keep the car garaged at home for a minimum of 1 day a week We have tried to be a 1 car household and it just isn't plausible for our current situation, however we do aim to keep at least 1 car garaged for a whole day (and night) each week. The price of petrol is a great encouragement to avoid using the cars unless we have to.
  • Take a look at your typical day, and see if you are able to cut back (or make at home) certain things such as your morning coffee/ sandwich run. I kicked my Red Bull habit to the curb and instead now have coffee at home with my coffee machine I got for Mothers Day, it has already saved us SO much money! 
Secondhand Filofax is perfect condition? Uh, yes please
  • Don't be afraid of the word 'Secondhand' Deciding I wanted a Filofax and being able to purchase one didn't happen within the same week, however being open to having one second hand certainly opened a lot more opportunities for me to have one. I purchased my Filofax Domino on Ebay for $21.99 with free shipping, and my Filofax Finsbury was purchased secondhand for $70 including postage from Gumtree, it is in beautiful condition and they retail anywhere from $90.00 upwards (including being secondhand) so I'm very pleased with myself. 
 Whether your budget is looser then the average shoestring or a lot tighter, I hope you find these tips somewhat helpful and inspiring to continue with your budget. If you did find this post helpful, please feel free to Tweet, Facebook or even Pin It and share with others

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The 15 Emails Experiment

The Experiment

I recently emailed 15 companies, asking each if I would be able to try a sample of their products. All of which I have purchased from in the past, and all of which I have been using for a while (if not my entire life.) The thought behind this was pretty much it couldn't hurt to ask. This idea was inspired by The $39 Experiment.

Just like The $39 Experiment my aim wasn't to get free samples from companies, but more to the point of which companies would send free samples.

I emailed the following companies:

Burt's Bees
Estee Lauder

I really didn't expect to hear much back, and still haven't heard back from a few companies, however I have gone about sharing with you the feed back I have currently received.

Here's the Feedback (so far...)

Revlon- Unfortunately we don’t keep samples at our Head Office. Revlon usually only has samples at a time of a promotion. However Nail Enamel is a product we never have samples of.
Burt's Bees
Nestle- We have posted you a variety of samples of NESCAFE Dolce Gusto capsules  which we hope you will enjoy. Capsules (Dulce Gusto) are available in most supermarkets and we also have a variety of capsules available exclusively from our websites ** received these samples within 2 days of emailing.
Coca-Cola- **I can't locate the email response
Colgate- sent me out palmolive shampoo and conditioner samples :)
Violetbox- are sending me out products to review (keep an eye out for this post!)
Cadbury(Kraft's Food)- We appreciate your interest in our organisation, however, we regret that Kraft Foods does not supply free samples of Cadbury products or merchandise on request.
Estee Lauder
Mars- Thank you for contacting us in relation to sending you free samples of our product. As we receive many requests for samples, donations of product and sponsorship proposals, we donate generously to numerous schools and other charitable organisations around Australia. I am sorry to say we are unable to help you with your request at this time.
Nivea- Unfortunately, we are unable to support your request for NIVEA product samples as our sample items are produced in limited quantities for promotional purposes only.
UbyKotex- sent me free samples in the mail :)
BellaBox- am awaiting an email reply.

In case you're curious, I don't feel anything negative towards the companies who have so far replied with a no sorry type response, after all this was simply an experiment. To those companies who took the time to not only reply, but to also send samples, I am a grateful (and continuing) customer.

I conducted this 15 Emails Experiment, including only companies whose products I use quite often. By doing so I immediately limited my chances of getting a response/ samples, however I will reiterate once more that this was not about seeing what I could get, but from whom I would receive a sample.

There you have it. I will be sure to update this post, should I receive any more feedback.

Until Next Time,

Monday, May 27, 2013

Feel Fabulous being Frugal

I am a strong believer that living frugally doesn't have to mean the end of feeling fabulous! So here are some of my own tips for feeling fabulous whilst staying frugal. You might be paying off debt or saving up for an occasion, whatever it is, you should still be able to feel fab doing so!

Monday Mannies: 

I haven't been to a nail salon in well over 4 years to have my nails done. Why? Well to be quite honest the smell of nail salons gives me an instant headache, but apart from that it's generally been a problem with timing or money.

So once in a while when my nails are looking rather... haggard and bleh, I whip out my 'Mannie Station' from underneath my bathroom sink and give myself an at-home Manicure. I 'book' myself an 'appointment' in my planner, generally on a Monday (start of the week just seems to be a perfect time) and whilst Jett (my 6 month old) has a nap or plays with his toys, I go about 'fabbing' up my nails in no time at all!

*Tip: Invest in some quality nail polish but don't be afraid to experiment with different brands. I have found just because a polish comes with a higher price tag, this doesn't guarantee you a higher quality every time. So make sure you find a brand that works for your fingers and budget.

Sunday Spaday: 

Skincare ranks higher than makeup for me, so having quality products that are effective whilst being budget friendly has always been important. I keep my routine very simple, and my products much the same. I use Palmer's Coca Butter Formula, which I also used all through my second pregnancy and find it works wonders as an allover moisturiser/ toner.

An at home spa day is a great way to de-stress, especially at the end of a long week. It doesn't have to be costly and best of all, it can include whatever you love. Bubble bath, your favourite music, warm face washer (or a facial mask) complete with a pedicure at the end... 

I don't always get time every Sunday for a Spaday, but I aim to make sure at least once a fortnight that it happens. 

Fabulously Fit: 

Being fit doesn't happen over night.. or even after 3 nights or 4, but it does happen with perseverance and hard work. Deciding to get fit or healthier however doesn't have to come with a big price tag. Start working with what you already have:

- Whether you're all about Pilates, Yoga, weights etc There are instructional videos on YouTube that you can watch for free (please don't go being crazy though and hurting yourself.) I started off with SUPER SUPER simple videos and once I found something I loved (Pilates) I bought an $8 Pilates DVD from Kmart. I also use my Xbox Kinect Sports Adventure Games to help keep me on track (and sweating up a storm) 

- I looked in my pantry, fridge and freezer at all the foods available to me PRIOR to going to the grocery store. I wrote up meals based on what I had, turns out I had 5 days worth already! I have also started up a food journal on Instagram (TheFoodJournalist) to keep me motivated.

So those are just 3 tips on how to stay fab whilst being frugal. If you have anymore or would like me to share more, feel free to comment below :)

Until Next Time,

Friday, May 17, 2013

Freezer Slow Cooker Meals

I am the first to admit that I get stressed and frazzled when I am not organised. Whether it be that I had a rough night with Jett not sleeping very well, or that our house has succumb to a virus from Lily's Preschool.. I get stressed. In order to eliminate this stress I take to ways of being more organised or preventative with the key 'stresses' I may have. 

A large, time needing item for me is dinner time. I can meal plan until the cows come home (which I do.. meal plan that is, not wait for the cows to come home) but if I don't prep our meals in advance, my meal 'planning' is then just as successful as my non meal planning efforts. 

So for the month of May I have taken to Freezing Slow Cooker recipes, I bought a few ingredients (most I already had in the pantry, fridge and/ or freezer) spent not much time on prepping the meals and now am stress free at dinner o'clock time.

I just write in my day planner next to the date what meal we'll be having for that day, then make sure to get that meal out of the freezer and start letting the slow cooker make our dinner! 

So far I have made:

- Slow Cooked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs
- Corn, Lime Chicken
- Alfredo Chicken
- Mustard Chicken
- Chicken Cacciatore 

I decided to give it a try when it came time to do our fortnightly grocery shop, we needed 14 dinners and enough for leftovers for Luke's Lunches so I thought it'd be interesting to see how long this little experiment of mine would take. 

My Experience:

 Cost: $190.00 

Meals Made: 16 Dinners & enough for 15 Lunches
Meal Preparation Time (cutting, peeling, dicing, chopping etc): 1 Hour 15 Mins
I managed to prep all 16 Dinners while my son slept and had the kitchen all cleaned by the time he woke up. We still have had takeaway between starting the Freezer Slow Cooker meals and now, I won't lie, sometimes a gal just loves a pizza slice (or 3...) but I am definitely a converted Slow Cooker User from this point forward.

My Suggestions for Making this work for you:

-Pick meals that you like, but don't be afraid to mix it up and try from new menus

-Work with the ingredients you already have in your pantry to save some $$

-Buy freezer friendly bags to store your prepped meals, avoid freezer burn

-Label your prepped meals with what they are, how long they'll take to cook and whether or not you need to add anything extra (such as serve with pasta, rice etc.)

-Write in your day planner, or even on a calendar on the fridge the meals and the days you'd like to have them. If you've got a busier day then normal one week then grab a slow cooker meal out and 
wa-la, there's dinner sorted.

- look at the cheaper cuts of meat that you may generally tend to save for a stew.. slow cooker = soft tender meats (mostly!) So don't be scared off by the larger, chunkier (but often much, much cheaper) cuts of meat in your local butchers or even just the supermarket. 
All hail the slow cooker!! And it's ease of use goodness!

Until Next Time,

Friday, May 3, 2013

How I Organise My Filofax

I purchased a Filofax Finsbury (in personal size) just over a week ago and have been maximising its usage ever since. I was lucky enough to find a Finsbury second hand (was only used for a few weeks) and was still in great condition and for $70 including postage!

A Finsbury has been on my wish list since discovering Filofax so I was excited to welcome one to my life/ household/ handbag. 

I'm a mummy to two kids under the age of 5 so having a good routine (or aiming for one) and staying organised is very important to both myself and the running of our household. It's a process though, I am constantly looking at ways I could simplify a system or better organise myself. 

I keep sticky notes, highlighted tabs and paper clips in the front slots of the Finsbury. In a clear envelope at the front, I keep my dot stickers that I use to colour co-ordinate events in my planner.

I made my own tab dividers which I blogged about here and made each one relevant to an area I would like to be more organised with:
I have 6 main tabs and 4 sub category tabs

House: Family, Goals, Budget and Blog
Cleaning/ Routine
Wish List (to buy, to have etc.)

I mark our pay dates with stickers and highlight Luke's work roster with yellow/ blue highlighter so I know at a quick glance how our week will be, this lets me organise things such as meals, family outings etc around everyones availability and of course, our income. 


Each member of the family has a colour assigned to them, this method definitely works for me as I can quickly glance at the week and see what is coming up and for who.

I check my Filofax in the morning (generally after both the kids are fed and dressed, and I have a coffee in my hand) and at night. By checking back with my Filofax twice daily (minimum) I really am able to stay organised and the Filofax is a functional part of my routine. Otherwise I'm certain it'd just be a very pretty organiser keeping dust on my desk or in my handbag.

I keep my morning/ afternoon routine simple so that it stays effective, it's the same everyday so I simply typed up on Microsoft Word a layout of what we do and sized it to fit the planner. Once you know the page size for your planner it doesn't take much time in making your own.

I don't label the personalised tab dividers, however for the sub categories of Home (which are quite permanent) I used the original Filofax tab dividers, covered them with a white label and marked them with a Bic Mark It Pen.

I don't keep anything in the back zipper section as yet. If I were to, it'd probably be an inventory list for the house or items I want to get the kids.

The pen I use doesn't actually fit in the provided pen holder (not many pens I like do..) so I simply place it the planner next to the holder for now, but that does seem to annoy the OCD side of me though. 

**I have recently starting using Avery Write-On Tabs to sub categorise sections such as my blog and sewing, just to make my to-accomplish list a lot more reachable. 

Blog: Blog Challenges, Blog Post Ideas, Blog Targets
Sewing: Current Projects, Materials Needed

 Do you use a Filofax to organise your life? I use a Filofax Domino to keep our Finances in order and so far it has been the most effective method by far, if you'd like to see my post of this just click here.

I am currently holding a giveaway of a brand new Filofax Domino (in personal size) once I reach 50 members on the blog, so make sure you're in the draw to win!

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DIY Filofax Tab Dividers

These dividers can be used in any type of organiser, I am simply using a Filofax as my organiser at the moment so this is what is shown. A great attraction to the Filofax brand is that they're quite customisable, but really, if your organiser has binder rings that you can open and close... you can customise it.

Making your own Tab Dividers in 5 simple steps!

I picked up the gorgeous paper shown and paper ruler/ cutter from Kmart for $15 in total. However you could easily make your own tab dividers without spending a single cent using wrapping paper, thin cardboard, contact paper or even photos that you already have at home.

Materials Used:

Original Tab Divider or the measurements of a page in your organiser will do.
Card/ Paper for the tab dividers; get creative if you like; wrapping paper, contact paper or even photos.
Scissors; I used these to neaten around the tabs
Paper Clip: I used this to keep my stencil in place while I cut around it
Hole Punch

Step 1:

Line your stencil (original tab divider in my case) along the paper/ card stock you are opting to use. You can turn the new paper/ card stock over (so the pretty side is face down) to avoid pen marks on the paper, however I opted to just use the pretty side facing up.

Step 2:

 Once you have stencilled out your new tab divider it's time to do some cutting! I keep a paper clip at the top to let me know when/ if the paper moves whilst I am cutting. 

Step 3:

Once you have cut out your new tab dividers, take a moment to make sure they are aligning nicely and that you are happy with their overall look.

Step 4:

Lets get punching! Hole punching the paper that is. Line your stencil with your new tab divider, I use a pen (with the pretty part of the paper facing down) and draw circles to let me know where exactly I need to line up my hole punch. Next it's just a matter of punching out these holes to reveal... your new tab dividers *crowd cheers*

My desk got a little craft-crazy during this DIY
 Once you have finished cutting out all of your tabs and hole punching them, it's time to revamp your organiser YOU-style!

Step 5:

Insert your new tab dividers, sit back and coo over them. Who's a pretty tab divider... yes you are!
I don't label my tabs as they may change time to time, instead I aim to keep my layout simple and the tabs are all a different pattern which makes it SO much easier.

Have you customised your organiser tabs? Or are you happy with the original layout of your organiser?

I will be updating you all on how I organise my ... organiser very soon, so make sure you stay tuned!

Until Next Time,


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