Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Cheapskate Tuesday

Quick tips for today - just some random things I have learned over the years of containing my shrinking budget....


  • We have unit pricing in Australia - check it! I buy so many things in small packets when common sense general advice tells me I should be buying the gargantuan size, because the little ones happen to be a better special.
  • Don't be fooled by no frills - Homebrand, Black and Gold etc - have you noticed you can buy CSR sugar for less than half the price of Black and Gold? And the no frills is s**t quality to boot. 
  • Try the store brands (like Woollies Select, or Coles products) as I have found many are coming out of the same factory as the "top quality items" with a different label on them.
  • Some things are okay to buy no frills - some things aren't. Things I refuse to buy cheap are freezer bags/food wraps, sugar/flour/baking supplies, toothpaste, and toilet paper. You will end up chucking them and paying the bigger price for the better item anyway. 
  • Things I buy cheap are dish washing liquid (my grandmother still uses the same brand of soap bar in a tin swished in hot running water that she has always used.... her dishes are so clean and smell pretty for almost nothing!) , laundry liquid (earth friendly and washes my clothes perfectly for a quarter of the price of a top brand) and nappies (woolies homebrand are almost a Huggies copy, and Huggies give my kids nappy rash so it's better on both fronts.)
  • Don't shop with the family if you can help it. I bargained with WonderMan and he looks after the kids to allow me to budget bust at my best. Kids distract and make you rush. Husbands pick the most expensive brands and items, and you end up at the checkout with half a trolley full of things that were sneaked in when you were comparing the 1c per nappy difference in price between brands.  If you must shop with your hubby, put him on a short leash and say "NO!" regularly in a firm voice - guaranteed he will have something sneaky in his hands....

As you can see, grocery shopping in my house is not so much a chore, more of a mercenary experience.


  • Try using less laundry powder/liquid - i halved the cap of laundry liquid I use and my clothes were just as clean as if I had double dosed them. Recommended amounts are designed for you to use the product and be buying it again within a certain time. Same with the fabric softener.
  • Close/open your curtains/blinds at the right time of day - I am amazed at WonderMan and the kids' ability to sit in a house with all the curtains drawn all day with every single light on. I am often heard shrieking "SUNSHINE IS FREE! Are you all vampires or something??" Closing them just as the afternoon starts to cool in winter also helps keep the warmth in with less heating.
  • If you work in an office, or go out to dinner in your best clothes, consider if they really need washing. Of course your undies do! But do you really need to wash your delicate item every time you wear it? Airing and putting away is cheaper and means your clothes will last longer. Think of it this way - do you wash your coat every time you come inside or do you hang it up on a peg? Commonsense really.
  • BAKE. BAKE SOME MORE. Get on the net and find the cheapest, simplest recipes you can make quickly and easily. Buying snacks and fillers for lunchboxes cost me a fortune - and I saved $50 (yep, $50... woah) every week by baking instead of buying. And I get at least double, if not quadruple the quantity I would get when I bought the items.
  • Put a jumper on. Make you kids do it too. And hubby. WonderMan is the worst for turning the heating/cooler up or down to ridiculous temps - costing us huge amounts of money, while he sits around in his boxer shorts. Split systems are fab at keeping a comfortable temp on very little power if you leave them that way. 
  • Love your slow combustion stove. Although I admit, it's getting really hard in most places to collect firewood unless you own your own farm or piece of scrub. We are lucky that we are permitted to collect firewood from road verges in our council, and I grew up with long days exploring rabbit holes while dad cut wood and mum loaded it into the trailer. I also remember driving home from school and having to stop and pick up sticks for mum's fire lighting kindling! 
  • Light your stove with newspapers and twigs, cut up egg cartons, the chips from around the wood chopping block, whatever you have in your house... firelighters can cost you a LOT over a winter.

So you see - there are lots of little things you can do to save that little bit every day. Some may work for you, some might not fit - adjust them, try them... 

Do you have any quick "cheapskate" tips? 


  1. Meal plans are a must in this house ! We saved a massive 130$ a fortnight doing meal plans. And before you write the shopping list go through the cupboards, see what you've already got. Husband always writes toilet paper on the list, and after 94 rolls, I am pretty sure we don't need any for awhile, but guess what's on the list this week.....

  2. GOLD!!!! I will now 1/2 my washing powder scoop. I also use vinegar in replacement of fabric softner for the towels, bedding, bibs and rags. I still use softner on our clothes though...coz I love the fragrance! :)

    @ Rose - I know the feeling. A few yrs back we had 4 rolls of aluminium foil because we kept forgetting we had already bought some the previous fortnight.....last week we ran out because we thought we had some.

  3. @Rose - Menu planning is a big must in our house too! And every now and then my mother has a "freezer week" where everything in the freezer must be used up so she can defrost and clean it. It means a big saving on her shopping that week.

    @The Rumpus Room - Vinegar in the wash is a fab idea - I love the fragrance of my fabric softener too much though! I also clean with vinegar and bi carb, the only commercial cleaners in our house were bought by WonderMan because "I thought we didn't have any" even though he knows I haven't bought spray n wipe in years!

  4. Menu PLanning addict here too. been doing it for about 15 years no and am so lost if I don't do it.
    I haven't used fabric softener in over a year and haven't niticed a difference in my clothes. But am going to start using it on my towels and rags as the cotton dishcloths I have started to m,ake and use have been so hard. I'm sure the vinegar will help.
    I agree with pretty much everything you have said in your post bar the baking items. I bake heaps and find no difference between the sugars and flours at all.
    I have heard they can make a difference (especially cornflour) when making a sponge but for everyday family baking I don't do sponges so no problems there.
    I buy pretty muich everything homebrand with a few exceptions (has to be Heinz tomato soup when I buy it)

  5. Hi Becci :) Thanks for your feedback - it's great to know what works for other people. I do agree that depending on the result you want you can use the cheaper baking goods - That was definitely my inner show cook speaking! Heinz tomato soup is a definite must in our house too :)


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