Reduce your subscriptions (and save money) by doing a ‘Scream Test’

Last month as I completed our monthly expense review I noticed that our monthly entertainment subscriptions had gotten a little out of hand. I noticed that we were now paying for Netflix, Spotify, Prime, and Apple TV (almost $50 a month). I was a little stunned at how normal these expenses had become and decided to do something. If you are in a similar situation as us and want to do something about it then keep reading.

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I don’t believe our story or situation is unique. We started out with good intentions and just one subscription service, but then slowly but surely over time more services magically appeared.

Maybe like us you added a new one because another service had a new TV show you wanted to watch……

Maybe you forgot to cancel it after the free trial…..

Maybe you hated the Spotify ads…..

Maybe you got into the habit of having all these convenient entertaining options at your finger tips…..

Whatever the reason your subscriptions (like ours) have slowly multiplied over time and now you’re quietly paying for more entertainment than you need.

So what now. Well I’ve decided to apply the scream test method to our subscriptions in order to cut them down significantly and save ourselves $500 a year.

What is the ‘Scream Test’?

I work in IT and a scream test is a term and method we use to determine if a service, function, system etc is still in use, and it’s importance. Typically scream tests are applied when no-one will take ownership of the service, function or system in question. If no-one takes ownership then no-one is able to make a decision on it’s importance, and whether it’s still required. You would be surprised at how often things such as servers are kept running without anyone using them. Scream tests are not something to be taken lightly in an IT setting, and if you would like to learn more about them take a look here.

How do you do a subscription ‘Scream Test’?

Well in very simple terms you quietly remove the subscription service, and wait for the screams from your family.

Obviously if I was applying this method to my work this explanation is overly simplified, but in terms of the context of applying it to my subscriptions this explanation suits this application perfectly.

Why am I trialling the ‘Scream Test’ method?

Well I’m 100% sure my household isn’t utilising all it’s subscriptions, and so the scream test will quickly determine what we are using and more importantly what we aren’t using.

I also don’t want to own the decision to keep/cancel the subscriptions. I have enough on my plate in terms of making decisions so for me a scream test feels like a nicer way to determine which subscriptions we should keep.

What if they ‘Scream’?

I expect my family to scream with at least one subscription, and for that reason we will keep one subscription at a time. If someone in the family wants to try another service then we can cancel our current subscription and switch.

It’s just $500 a year, who cares?

Well I do care, especially when I know that we are paying for something that we aren’t utilising. There is nothing worse in my mind than paying for something you aren’t using, and that’s why I think doing a subscription scream test in your household is a good idea.

Let me know in the comments how your subscription scream tests go or how you are keeping your subscription costs down.

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Make your own Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray for under $1

Today I’m sharing my Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray solution recipe. It’s so easy to make, and I love it because it’s likely you already have these items in your cupboard.

This spray saves us a tonne of money, and I estimate that it costs just cents in the dollar for every 250ml I use. Additional benefits include the fact that it’s low tox, and you can modify the essential oil to match your preferences. I’m a huge fan of using Tea Tree Oil due to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties (I also quite like the scent).

Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray Solution

What do you need?

  • 250mls of warm water
  • 1/4 cup of household vinegar
  • 10 drops of your favourite essential oil
  • a clean empty spray bottle
  • Measuring jug

Method

  1. Use a measuring jug and mix the warm water and vinegar together.
  2. Then add your essential oil.
  3. Mix gently.
  4. Then allow to cool down before filling up your spray bottle.
  5. Happy Cleaning.

Notes:

  • Always do a spot test with any new cleaner to ensure it doesn’t damage your surfaces.
  • As this cleaning spray contains vinegar it shouldn’t be used on stone or marble benchtops (as it can eat away at it, and remove the shine off the surface).

If you use this recipe I would love to hear about it so feel free to post and share on Instagram (and tag me @FrankOnFIRE_ and I will reshare the love).

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Australian Hamburger Recipe

Following a few requests I’m keen to start sharing some of our regular recipes that help keep our grocery bill as low as possible. You will find them all tagged here ‘Frugal Recipes‘.

This is a super simple recipe we make regularly in this house. I usually do 1kg at a time (and freeze the patties) so feel free to double, triple or adapt the recipe below to your needs.

Ingredients

  • 500gm Beef Mince
  • 1 tbsp Mixed Herbs
  • 1/2 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to Taste

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and use your fingers to mix together. Its ready when it comes together and can be moulded into balls (Be careful not to overwork the mixture).
  2. Form into patties. I recommend using a Hamburger Press (Link here to the one I use – under $10). Using a Hamburger Press will help you get the right shape, and they will end up looking just like the real deal.
This is the Hamburger Press I use (Link here). It’s really simple to use. I also use baking paper to make it easier to clean and remove the patties.

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How frugal are you? We audited ourselves against 70 frugal tips (Free Printable)

Our family is pretty frugal, and during the last year I believe we’ve cut our expenses significantly in response to the global uncertainty. That said I always believe there is room for improvement so I audited our household against 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life.

Canstar being the legends they are recently produced the following article which I started reading ‘Frugal Living: 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life’. Instead of just simply reading the article which you need to read I decided to do an audit to see if there were any areas that my family could improve upon.

If you want to do this audit on your own individual circumstances I’ve created a free printable below for you to try it for yourself

A screenshot of the free printable ‘How Frugal Are You?’

These are our results from doing the audit:

These are our results from doing the audit:

Frugal TipImplementedNeeds improvement
Spending Diary or Regular Expense Tracking
Write down your goals
Make Savings Fun
(Visual Tracking or Savings Challenges)
Self-awareness of emotional spending and avoidance of triggers
This is a constant battle
Join an online community (eg Facebook or Instagram community like She’s on the Money)
Start a coin jar
Shop at a physical supermarket
One shop, once a week
Use a shopping list app
Meal prep like a pro
Make use of leftovers
Use your own coffee machine
Swap meat for veg regularly
Buy frozen veggies
Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach
Buy generic brand versions where possible
Pay bills on time to avoid late fees
Monitor your bank balance
Audit your bank accounts to see if you are paying fees
Check how much interest you are paying on your credit cardN/A
Phone your bank and ask them for a discount on your home loan interest rate
Shop around for your car insurance regularly
Review your health insurance regularly
Review your personal insurance regularly
Review your superannuation fund
Track down lost money in bank accounts
Review your telecommunications contracts
In the last 6 months
Seek cheaper ways to connect internationallyN/A
Avoid streaming on your phone using mobile data
Review your electricity and gas use regularly
In the last 6 months
Pay yourself first (your savings / investments etc)
Use ‘Rounding Up’ programs
I do mine manually
Get your bills online
Get discounts on petrol
I could be better
Get bonus interest on your savings account
Organise your tax receipts
Check your family is registered for the Medicare Safety Net
Keep things in working order
Fix it yourself
Buy clothes that don’t need dry cleaning
I cannot remember the last time I needed dry cleaning
Make your own greeting cards
Start doing Secret Santa for Christmas
Check your calendar to save money on gifts (Plan ahead)
Delay gratification: Follow the 10 second rule
Delete stored debit / credit card numbers
Calculate the value of your impulse buys in hours of work
Use your local library (including online libraries such as the Libby app)
Make your own cleaning products
Look for coupons or cashback opportunities
Consider joining a customer rewards program
Shop out of season
Reuse, reuse, reuse
Rationalise your subscription services
Price match where possible
We need to do this more
Shared expenses: use splitting and repayment toolsN/A
Use air conditioning more efficiently
Get your head out of the fridge
The kids need improvement
Save on electricity and air dry clothes
We are mostly good at this
Freeze uneaten food
Save on water costs by using water savings techniques (timed showers, water saving shower heads etc)
Participate in free online surveys for cash
Take your reusable bags to the supermarket
Collect and cash in (Bottle Deposit Schemes)
Check your payslip
Grow your own veggies / produce
Propagate your own plants
Learn for free
I need to do some more research on this
Ditch expensive printers
We’ve compared ours and its one of the cheapest out there
Know your refund rights
Get help from a financial counsellor if you need itN/A
Table – 70 tips to reduce your expenses

The Verdict:

So we have successfully implemented 60 out of 70 of the Frugal Tips recommended by Canstar. In the next few weeks I’m going to work on some of our improvement areas and:

  • Start a coin jar
  • Meal prep
  • Check to see if we have any missing money
  • Consistently use petrol apps and discounts
  • Trial Secret Santa this year
  • Be a little more organised with gift giving
  • Calculate the ‘real’ cost of splurge items in relation to work hours
  • Take advantage of price matching more
  • Put more effort into drying clothes naturally
  • Find out about free study options

Overall this audit has been a really great way to check in and find a few areas to improve upon (and it didn’t take long at all). I highly recommend doing the same and the link to free printable is below:

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Where to find TAFE or student provided services that save you money

A couple of days ago I posted an Instagram reel on utilising TAFE or student provided services as part of my frugal tips. I had a lot of comments from those who also knew about these services (and loved them), and I had a few comments from those who didn’t know about these services. So today I’m writing this article to list some of the student provided services that can save you money, and where to find them.

For this article I’ve completed a quite a bit of research on where you can access these services and have listed them below by category and state.

Hair and Beauty (Massage section further down below)

If like me you don’t want to sacrifice your hair and beauty on the way to building wealth then consider getting a student to cut your hair or do your treatment. TAFE and vocational education providers are always looking for customers for the students to train on. All students are typically supervised so don’t worry you will still end up with a good quality cut / treatment at an amazing price.

StateInformation / Links
SATAFE SA – Location – Multiple see link – Hair and Beauty (Link Here) – They do hair, nail, tanning, waxing, massage and facial services. They offer 25% off of their prices to pensioners and students.
Colour Cosmetica Academy – Adelaide – Link Here
NTCharles Darwin University – Palmerston and Alice Springs – Hair and Beauty (Link Here) – They do hair, nail, tanning, waxing, massage and facial services. They offer an extra 25% off of prices to pensioners.
WATAFE WA – South Metro – Link Here
NSWThe Hair and Beauty Academy – Penrith – Link here
Contour College – Tuggerah – Link Here
QLDKatrinas School of Beauty – Morayfield – Link here
Demi International – Multiple Locations – Link here
ACTAustralasian Beauty Therapy Academy (Beauty – no hair treatments) – Canberra – Link Here
VICVictoria University – Melbourne – Link Here
TASTasTAFE – Hobart, Alanvale, Devonport – Link Here
Table – Student Hair and Beauty Locations

Restaurants / Cafes

Many years ago I completed a short course at my local TAFE and discovered that they have student restaurants that offer high quality restaurant or café meals at a fraction of the price. After doing a bit of research it turns out there are numerous TAFE and Vocational institutes that do this across Australia.

StateInformation / Links
VICRichards Restaurant – Broadmeadows – Link Here
Wangaratta Campus Restaurant – Link Here
Holmesglen Cilantro Restaurant – Link Here
VenU Restaurant – Footscray – Link Here
The Apprentice – Prahran – Link Here
St Georges Restaurant – Preston – Link Here
Prospects Training Restaurant – Ballarat – Link Here
WABentley Pines Training Restaurant | South Metropolitan Tafe – Link Here
SAGraduates Restaurant – Regency Park – Link Here
Tiros Restaurant – Regency Park – Link Here
NSWRubric Restaurant – Alexandria – Link Here
ACTCIT Restaurant – Reid – Link Here
QLDTAFE QLD offers a number of different restaurants across their campuses at Toowoomba, Southport, Warwick, South Bank, Ipswich, Cairns, Loganlea, Townsville, Whitsundays, Mooloolaba and Bundaberg. Link here
NTKarawa Training Restaurant – Palmerston – Link here
Desert Lantern Restaurant – Alice Springs – Link here
Table – Student Restaurant Locations

Massage

Who doesn’t love a massage. The prices in the below range start from as low as $25 an hour depending on your location and treatment. Most of the links below contain additional information on supervision, what you need to bring and hygiene regulations to ease your mind.

StateInformation / Links
VICEvolve College – Docklands – Link here
ALG Student Massage Clinic – Melbourne – Link here
QLDALG Student Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Q Academy Student Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Institute Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Academique Clinic – Southport – Link here
Student Massage School – Brisbane – Link here
NSWALG Student Massage Clinic – Sydney – Link Here
ACTPivotal Therapies – Canberra – Link Here
Australasian Beauty Therapy Academ – Canberra – Link Here
WASouth Metro TAFE – Murdoch Campus – Link here
ACMM Student Massage Clinic – Perth – Link here
SATAFE SA – Massage – Adelaide Campus (Link Here)
Colour Cosmetica Academy – Adelaide – Link Here
Table – Student Massage Locations

Veterinary Services

These services are not as well published online as other student clinics, however I was able to find some student vet services which offer discounts.

StateInformation / Links
VICAdelaide University Small Animal Clinic – Link Here
WATAFE WA – Bentley Campus – Link Here
Table – Student Veterinary Locations

Psychologists

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Table – Student Psychology Locations

Physio / Exercise / Occupational Therapy

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Brisbane Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Physio / Exercise / OT Locations

Speech Pathology

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Table – Student Speech PathologyLocations

Podiatrist

StateInformation / Links
NSWSydney Health Clinic – CQUniversity
QLDRockhampton Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Podiatry Locations

Dentistry

During my research on student led clinics I found several dental clinics that offer services to the public. Some of these services do require you to be on a health card so make sure you check before you book.

StateInformation / Links
NSWCharles Sturt University – Multiple Locations – Link Here
WAThe University of WA – Nedlands – Link Here
VICUniversity of Melbourne – Melbourne – Link Here
Dental Health Services Victoria – Link Here
QLDRockhampton Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Dentist Locations

Chiropractic

During my research on student led clinics I found a chiro clinic that offer services to the public. Feel free to contact me if you find others and I would be happy to add the links.

StateInformation / Links
VICChiropractic clinic – RMIT University
QLDMackay Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Brisbane Health Clinic – CQUniversity
NSWSydney Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Chiro Locations

Dermal and Cosmetic Therapies

During my research on student led clinics I found a several dermal and cosmetic procedure clinics that offer services to the public. Feel free to contact me if you find others and I would be happy to add the links.

StateInformation / Links
VICDermal Clinic | Victoria University | Melbourne Australia (vu.edu.au)
Melbourne – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
WAPerth – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
NSWSydney – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
QLDStudent Medical Aesthetic and Laser Clinic – Grayclay
Table – Student Dermal and Cosmetic Procedure Locations

Please note this isn’t a comprehensive list of all student related services in Australia. There are likely many more out there and I would be keen to add more services to this article if you find any more. Feel free to contact me or add to the comments below.

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Side Hustle Series – Bottle and Metal Recycling

This is my second article in my side hustle series posts, and it’s a side hustle I’m quite passionate about….. recycling.

I’m a millennial so from birth its been hammered into my brain that we need to recycle and reuse as much as possible to minimise our impact on mother earth. So for me making a little cash whilst doing something that I love like recycling makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

How do I make money from recycling?

The ability to apply this side hustle to your own situation will depend on where you are located.

In Australia at the time of posting the following states offer $0.10 per bottle recycling.

Coming Soon

Additionally metal and other paid recycling will again depend on your rules and regulations in your state. Check them out online or head on down to your local recycling plant to get the full story for yourself.

How does the bottle refund / recycling scheme work and what are the benefits?

The bottle refund / recycling scheme works by adding a small extra deposit on top of the price of a beverage. This extra deposit is then refunded when the purchaser returns the empty drink container for recycling.

The benefits of the recycling scheme for bottles are:

  • Reduce bottle / container related litter by encouraging litter to be picked up with the reward being the $0.10 per bottle/container.
  • Improved Recycling through more effective capture and sorting with reduced risk of contamination.

So how do I know what bottles or containers are part of the bottle refund / recycling scheme?

Bottles in your state or territory are marked with a stamp which indicates their ability to be recycled as part of the bottle refund / recycling scheme. Some bottle types are not able to be recycled and will not result in a refund being paid. More information on the types of bottles and containers that are recyclable under the scheme is available in the links provided above.

How much money do I make from recycling? and is it worth it?

We make about $50 bi-monthly on returning our bottles. Its not huge dollars, but it’s money for jam. Additionally due to the set up of the scheme you might as well do it as you are paying for the scheme through increased drink prices.

We additionally make money from recycling metal that my husband picks up from his side hustle business. This is infrequent but our last visit nabbed us $80 for recycling a heavy metal frame (it pays to know your recycling rates).

I track all my side hustle income in my Income and Expense Tracker.

What tips do you have for bottle recycling?

I separate my paid recycling items from my normal recyclables by placing these in a separate bin (similar to my garbage bin). I bought an additional bin for this purpose off of Gumtree for $10 many years ago. Having an additional bin is really handy as you can just load it in the car when it’s full, which makes dropping off and collecting the cash at the deposit centre a breeze.

Not everyone around you is going to want to take part in this scheme, and that’s okay. If those close to you don’t participate I recommend taking the opportunity to ask them if they would collect them for you, provide them a bin, and pick them up when full.

Also don’t be afraid to pick up a can / bottle off the side of the road. It’s helping yourself, and helping the environment.

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Side Hustle Series – Market Research

I’ve just booked my first market research gig for 2021, and it’s prompted me to start a new blog series here on Side Hustles. The first of which will be outlining the in’s and out’s of doing Market Research as a side hustle.

My experience doing Market Research?

I’ve been doing Market Research as a side hustle for many years now. I think its likely over 5 years (way before Frank on FIRE). On average I do a large market research opportunity every other month, and I’ve averaged about $500 a year (likely more). I also do a tonne of little market research jobs which I don’t really keep track of.

What does ‘Market Research’ as a side hustle entail?

Every single session of Market Research I’ve done has been completely different. I’ve completed group market research eg: in a large room with a group of people providing feedback on products to the researcher (often these are also filmed and / or there are mirrored windows with people watching you). I’ve completed 2 minute video tasks answering a question. Since Covid-19 there has been more emphasis on online tasks, and these have been via zoom usually (my last opportunity was testing a new website).

How much money can you make doing ‘Market Research’ as a side hustle?

The amount really varies. I’ve completed 2 minute filmed videos to answer one question for $5 (taking under 5 minutes work). I’ve also been paid $150 to do a 2 hour in-person group session that also provided free food and drink (pizza/sandwiches). More frequently I’m paid between $60-80 for between 30 minutes to a 1 hour session. The latest gig I’m doing next week is a 1 hour online session for $80.

I track all my side hustle income in my Income and Expense Tracker.

How do you get paid?

I’m paid by the companies I’ve signed up to in two ways either gift cards or via bank deposit (once I was given cash in an envelope which felt a little odd).

I also declare my side income at tax time so make sure you talk to your tax agent about your own requirements.

What is the time commitment?

One thing I love about doing Market Research over doing surveys for example is that I don’t spend a lot of time on it. You do have to typically apply for an opportunity, however this process usually takes under a minute (especially if you use pre-fill). The majority of time on this side hustle comes from when you are actually participating in the research itself, and this time you are remunerated for.

Is this a reliable source of side income?

No, unfortunately Market Research isn’t typically a reliable source of income. That said I seem to pick up a gig fairly frequently.

How do I sign up?

The best way to get started in Market Research is to register with companies to get on their mailing list for opportunities. You will be asked to complete a profile initially, which the company will use to line you up with appropriate opportunities. Below is the list of Market Research companies in Australia in recommended order (if you are from outside Australia I would recommend doing a search for some reputable ones in your local area):

  1. Askable
  2. Research Connections
  3. Focus People
  4. Paid Focus Groups
  5. Farron Research
  6. Realtime Research
  7. KB Research
  8. Stable Research
  9. DML Research
  10. Chitchat Research
  11. The Purple Corporation

Some of these companies have Facebook sites, and I recommend following these as well. I’ve often found additional opportunities that were not sent to my email from the Facebook posts.

Feel free to add any other recommended market research companies in the comments below.

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5 Back to School Savings Hacks

School costs can always be counted on for increasing each year so I’m sharing my top back to school savings hacks. Feel free to add yours in the comments below.

  1. Don’t automatically use the recommended school book list retailer

As I discovered this year it doesn’t always pay to go with the school recommended book retailer. I found this out by accident when I missed the ordering deadline, and had to seek an alternative. I ended up finding out that Officeworks allow you to upload your school book list online so you don’t even need to come into the store. They then pack the items and these can be delivered to your door (or you click and collect). By selecting the alternative option we saved $60 which was then diverted to paying for a new laptop bag. It’s worth doing the sums.

  1. Buy the basic school uniform first

It’s tempting to buy everything in one go at the Uniform Shop to save time, but I have found that by buying everything up front I often ended up overbuying items. Eg buying too many long pants when my son’s only wanted to wear shorts and so on. So now I only buy a basic set of uniform items to get them started for the year, and add to it throughout the year as needed. This hack also helps me spread the cost of uniforms throughout the year.

  1. Work out what you can purchase outside of the uniform shop

Now I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but its worth investigating and seeing what items don’t have to be purchased from the uniform shop. For us we have found that pants, shorts, socks, bags, and hats don’t need to be purchased from the uniform shop. We instead purchase these items from Kmart, Big W or Target. This has saved us a significant amount of money over the years given that the price difference between Uniform Pants and Kmart Pants is about $20-25 a pair.

  1. Buy good quality shoes, but make sure you don’t forget your cashback.

I’m a big believer in buying good quality footwear, and spending a little extra to get something that will go the distance. Something I’ve recently started doing is ordering my kids shoes online. In previous years this wasn’t something I would consider doing as I was concerned with sizing issues / and returns. These days I’ve found more and more shoe retailers are offering free and easy returns to allow people to shop for shoes in the comfort of their own homes. An added bonus of online shopping for shoes is being able to take advantage of cashback offers available at Shopback and Cash Rewards . I make sure to keen an eye on deals in the lead up to Christmas, and have received 10-20% back on my shoe purchases.

  1. Check out your local government entitlements.

It took me a couple of years to find out about the sports vouchers for kids program in my state, however now that we do know about it we make sure to use up our entitlements yearly.

All states except Victoria and the ACT offer rebates to Australian parents who enrol their children in recreational events outside of school. Information on these programs are available below.

I would love to know if you have any savings hacks you use. Feel free to comment below.

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