Take the 28 Day Frugal Challenge

This February on Instagram I created and completed a 28 day frugal challenge. This came about after we had a very spendy start to the year with Christmas and birthdays. So the timing was perfect to do a challenge that helped us get back to our frugal roots, and in the process find some extra cash. The challenge went really well, not only did we save some money but we also rediscovered our love of frugality and slow living. So I’m sharing the challenge via the blog today for those who may want to do a quick frugal boot camp to get themselves back on track.

Please note that this challenge can be completed at any time, and in any month (not just February).

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Day 1: Set your goal for the month and use a visual tracker to track your progress.

The first day of the challenge is all about setting your intentions and goals for the month. Feel free to use my free monthly personal finance printable link here. It’s super easy to use, and I place mine on our fridge so that the whole family can work towards it.

Day 2: List at least one item you no longer use on Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay or other selling platform. Transfer any cash you make to savings.

The aim of this challenge is to kickstart your savings and get a quick win to help motivate you. Take a walk around your home and find at least one item that you can sell. I know I always seem to have a list of items I want to sell in my head, but haven’t gotten around to listing. So this day is all about listing just one of these items (if you list more then well done).

Day 3: Do a food audit and find anything close to expiry. Find a recipe to use it up and incorporate into your meal plan.

Doing a food audit every month of your pantry (or weekly for your fridge) is such a great way to reduce food waste. Once you identify the items close to spoiling pop them in a basket so you know you need to use them up (I have a basket in the fridge and in the pantry). Then it’s time to get creative and plan your meals this month around these items.

Day 4: Check that you are getting the best deal for your car insurance.

It’s important to review your car insurance regularly to ensure you are getting the best deals (you can save $$$’s). There are a few websites that can assist you in this task such as Canstar, Compare the Market, Finder and iSelect.

Day 5: Check your tyre pressure and make sure they are at the recommended pressure.

Did you know that having your tyre pressure below the recommended pressure can lead to you using an extra 5% fuel? It can also decrease your tyre tread life. If you don’t know where your tyre pressure recommendation is you will usually find it in the inside of your car door when you open it (or in your car manual). I’m not great at remembering this tip so I have a reoccurring reminder on my phone.

Day 6: Cook an extra meal to be put in the freezer for a future night off.

Prepare an extra meal in advance to put into the freezer. The idea around this is that at some point in the likely near future you will not feel like cooking, and instead of grabbing a takeaway you can reheat this extra meal instead (saving you money). It may also be worth getting in the habit of preparing double portions one night of the week and freezing the excess.

Day 7: Grab your latest energy bill and take 5 minutes to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.

For Australians this process is super simple just head on over to the government website Energy Made Easy and upload your bill. Then wait for your results and check how much you can save by switching providers. We saved over $1000 a year switching to Reamped Energy. These guys are great and if they are the best deal for you feel free to use the link to recieve $50 when you sign up (and the best thing is they do all the hard work for you in terms of breaking up with your old company).

Day 8: If you’re on a variable mortgage interest rate call your provider for a rate review.

Do you want to save over $1000 in one hour? Yes, well perhaps it’s time to give your lender a call. I request an interest rate review every 3-6 months depending on my lender’s policy on rate reviews. I do a little preparation work for it including a little research on other providers (eg. interest rate offered, new customer rates, providers name, LVR, etc). I then call my lender and once I finally get to a real person I request to speak to the rate review department. I then make my pitch remembering to be super polite and removing any emotion. I’m not always successful but over the years this has saved us thousands of dollars.

Day 9: Deep clean your washing machine and dryer filters.

Not only is this a necessary and often overlooked part of maintaining your appliances (and their lifespan), but you never know what you’ll find in there.

Day 10: Make your own multi purpose spray cleaner.

I love making my own spray cleaner for three reasons. It’s cheap to make, low tox, and I get to control the fragrance. I have a really simply recipe listed here (Make your own Multi Purpose Spray for under $1) that you are welcome to try.

Day 11: No one’s perfect. If you need a night off choose a takeaway instead of a takeaway.

We all need a night off, and even if you’ve got a pre-cooked meal in the freezer sometimes you have a craving for a takeaway. But before you reach for your phone why don’t you think about a fakeaway instead. Fakeaway is just what you think it might be. Fake takeaway that requires minimal effort and can be purchased from your supermarket, bakery, Asian grocery or specialty shop. My favorites are:

  • Heat and eat curries (Aldi does a great one in the fridge section)
  • Heat and eat pies/pastry’s (again I recommend Aldi)
  • Home made gourmet hotdogs with your own toppings (I’m a sucker for the Aldi brioche hotdog rolls).
  • Dumplings, Bao Buns, or really any frozen item from your local Asian grocery.
  • Burgers.
  • Mexican.
  • Heat and eat pastas like lasagna.
  • Pre-made pizzas.
  • Air fryer fish and chips

Day 12: Pull out all your clothes and go through each of them. Rediscover some oldies you forgot and donate/sell anything you no longer wear.

Try on your clothes, and get rid of anything that no longer fits/ is broken or just doesn’t bring you joy wearing. Don’t forget to take any unwanted items that are not donation quality to H&M where you will receive a 15% off voucher.

Day 13: Hand make a card for someone special using things around the house.

Cards can be expensive especially when you leave it to the last minute. So this challenge is all about being creative using what you have around the house to make a card. I keep mine pretty generic so I can use them for an unexpected goodbye, thank you or birthday. If you need some inspiration then follow my lead and go to Pinterest for some ideas.

Day 14: Schedule a zero or low cost money date (for singles or couples).

Every month we schedule a money date, and more often than not these dates are quite cheap. Eg a nice walk to our favorite local waterfall, a mini picnic or just a drink at our local pub during happy hour. During our money date we reflect on our money and life wins/losses since our last date, and get back in sync. For those who aren’t coupled up do something for you: reset yourself, reflect on your wins and celebrate you.

Day 15: Check that your Home Insurance is still meeting your needs and you’re still getting the best deal.

A lot changes every year including the cost of rebuilding your house as well as insurance legislation. So it’s important to at least once a year make sure that you’ve still got the best insurance for your situation. For most of us our house is our biggest asset so it’s important that it’s insured appropriately. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Some great places to start are Canstar, Choice, Compare the Market, Finder and iSelect.

Day 16: Check out your local library or library app like Libby/Borrowbox.

I love my library and I challenge you to go and see what services your library provides. Often libraries provide more than just books. Our library provides free coding classes for our son, genealogy, workshops, classes, cheap room hire, and access to a 3D printer. If you’re not close to your local library then check out library apps like Libby and Borrowbox. If your library has a newsletter then I recommend subscribing to keep up to date with new services.

Day 17: Check out your local vocational training providers / or TAFE providers to see what student provided services are available to the public.

I previously worked at a TAFE provider and whilst there I discovered so many great goods and services available to the public at lower prices than usual. These goods and services included:

  • Hair and Beauty
  • Food (Bread, Patisserie, Butcher, etc)
  • Wine and Beer
  • Restaurants
  • Floristry
  • Tech Bar
  • Massage
  • Vet Services
  • and many others.

If you would like to read up on these services more check out this article Where to find TAFE related services that will save you money.

Day 18: Bring the cinema to your home for a low cost night in.

This challenge is all about finding activities that fill your need for fun without breaking the bank. One of our favourite activities is to stay home and watch a great classic movie as a family. We make it extra special by going to Aldi, grabbing some popcorn, lollies, and fancy icecream for under $10.

Day 19: Try swapping your regular meal delivery services like Hellofresh with a free or low cost meal planning app like mealime or paprika.

We all have to eat, but how you plan and decide what goes on the table can save you a tonne of money. Recently we had gotten a little too reliant on HelloFresh, but we ditched it for the app Mealime, and after a month of using it we love it!!!

The Mealime app has a free version and a paid version ($2.99 a month). You simply download the app to your phone, select your recipes, it then generates your shopping list, and you then cook the meals. You can even upload your own recipes.

I’ve also been told that Paprika Recipe Manager is also great. This is a paid app (once off cost $7.99). I haven’t tried this one myself, but I like that this app allows you to plan your meals weekly, fortnightly or monthly. It also had additional functions such as being able to keep a pantry list in addition to generating a grocery list.

Day 20: Look into bulk buying items that you use frequently.

Bulk buying your groceries can save you a tonne of money, and I do this for several high use items in our house (eg. Flour, Eggs, Rice, Herbs, Toilet Paper etc). When I bulk buy I have a few rules I follow:

  • Know your unit pricing. Bigger sometimes isn’t cheaper.
  • Only buy what you would use in a year or alternatively whatever the used by date on it.
  • If bulk buying meat use a scale to divide up and bag your meat.
  • Know how long something can be frozen. Whilst a whole chicken can be kept in the freezer for a year, a cut up chicken can only be frozen for 9 months.
  • Label your frozen goods well. Otherwise you might get a surprise after defrosting it (hands up if you’ve done this before).

Day 21: Download a petrol app and get the best price in your area.

Petrol apps have been around for a few years. They can save you quite a bit of money depending on the petrol price fluctuations in your area. There are quite a few Australian fuel apps including Fuel Map, Petrol Spy, Fuel Lock 7/11, RACQ Fuel, Gas Buddy, RAA Petrol App, and Motormouth.

Day 22: If you love high end clothing then consider joining a buy, sell, swap group or trying a pre-loved designer store.

I’m not a big fashion shopper, but I do love a few brands that are quite $$$. Instead of buying new I have joined a few buy, sell, swap groups on Facebook in order to save myself money. I’ve also had a bit of luck at a local pre-loved designer store (the ones that rent a rack to people to sell their items).

Day 23: Use cashback sites/apps like Shopback, Cash Rewards and Honey.

If you need to buy something online then cashback sites/apps can be a great way to make a little money. We use our cashback dollars at the end of the year to help with Christmas expenses. To use cashback sites/apps simply sign up to the cashback site, shop through their online platform/or use their brower extension, and then get a % of your online purchase amount paid into your cashback account. Feel free to use my affiliate links here to get an additional bonus for signing up.

Day 24: Swap to generic supermarket brands.

We are big fans of buying generic supermarket brands and almost exclusively shop at Aldi. Often we find that even when branded items are on half price sale at the major supermarkets that the generic brand is often cheaper. In recent years the taste and quality of generic brands has improved significantly, and we often prefer the aldi brands over the branded version.

Day 25: Change your mortgage payments to fortnightly or weekly to pay down your mortgage faster.

If you’re not already paying your mortgage weekly or fortnightly I challenge you to try switching your payment schedule. It’s such a simple way to pay your mortgage off quicker as you end up paying additional payments without realising it over the year.

Day 26: Grow your own herbs from store bought cuttings.

I’ve got a huge green thumb, but it wasn’t always like this. It’s taken years of learning and a tonne of trial and error (and dead plants). An easy first step to improving your green thumb without significant outlay is to propagate from herbs you’re already buying from the supermarket. It may come as a surprise to you but you can grow the following herbs from cuttings:

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram

You simply select the green stem, and to take a cutting you:

  1. Snip just below the leaf node (where the leaves come out of the stem). This should be about 10cm.
  2. Then remove the bottom leaves.
  3. Pop the cutting in a glass of water.
  4. Then place the cutting on a sunny windowsill.
  5. Then change the water at least weekly (every couple of days is best)
  6. In a few weeks you will start to see roots grow and you can plant your cutting into a small pot.

Day 27: Adopt a more frugal beauty regime.

Beauty budgets are extremely personal and individual, but I do think there are a lot of easy ways to shave money off your budget without compromising too much. So this challenge is all about making a small change to your beauty regime to save yourself money.

I’m not going to tell you to stop Botox, Laser, etc…. but maybe there is somewhere in your beauty budget that could benefit from a review. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make the most of working from home and give your face a couple of days off each week without make up.
  • Try extending the time between salon visits.
  • Embrace a more budget friendly hair colour/style.
  • Buy laser hair removal when they have deals.
  • Shop around for Botox or other treatments. There can be a significant price difference between practitioners.
  • Use TAFE or beauty school services.
  • Invest in a DIY manicure/pedicure set up at home.
  • If you’ve got a partner consider doing a short WEA course on couple massage.
  • Use sunscreen everyday.
  • Drink tonnes of water and feed your skin from the inside.
  • Use up your old products before buying new.
  • Learn to love your greys.
  • Do your own hair colour.
  • Learn to cut your partners/kids hair.
  • Know your skin type: Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring so you never end up with colours you don’t use.
  • Try the odd drug store brand. I’m a huge fan of Aldi’s range but I also mix it up with my favourite Mecca brands.
  • Join loyalty programs and use birthday vouchers.
  • Ask for free samples when you visit department stores (my mum taught me this one).

Day 28: Add up your savings, side hustles and other wins from completing the challenge and celebrate with your favourite low cost or free activity.

Well done for getting to the end!!!!! If you completed the challenge I would love to hear how it went so please let me know in the comments or tag me via instagram.

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20 Savings Tips for Christmas

Did you know that there are only 20 weeks until Christmas? No that’s not an error. If like me you are yet to start planning or budgeting for your Christmas then keep reading. I have written this post with 20 tips you can implement now to help you get prepared for Christmas and hopefully save some money as well.

  1. Start a Christmas Savings Tracker –

If you’ve been following me for a while then you would know that I love visual trackers. The ones you print out and colour in as you reach your savings or investing goals. So I’ve created a free one for you to download to help you track your Christmas Savings.

It’s super easy to use. Simply decide how much you need to save for Christmas, then divide it by 20. This will give you the amount you need to save each week.

Example: I want to save $400 for Christmas.

$400 / (divided by) 20 (The amount of weeks until Christmas) = $20 per week

I need to save $20 per week for 20 weeks to reach my goal of $400 by Christmas.

After you print the tracker out and place it on your fridge you simply write your goal savings amount in the blank goal area. Then you write the value of each weekly star in the blank section (eg $20 a week).

Each week you then colour in a star each time you make a transfer to your Christmas Account (See Tip 2 below)

  1. Set up a designated Christmas Account

Once you’ve set up your Christmas Savings Goal amount and have your tracker printed for your fridge it’s now time to set up your Christmas Account. Your Christmas Account should be a separate account to your everyday banking accounts where you can automate the weekly transfers of funds to this account. I find UP Bank is great for this as you can create additional goal savings accounts, and the round up feature is helpful in encouraging you to save even more than your goal.

  1. Buy one extra Christmas food item each week in your shopping

Each week when you do your weekly food shopping buy one extra food item that you will use during Christmas. Then put it into a box or 2nd fridge/freezer (hidden away) so by the time Christmas comes you already have a good collection of food. Only thing to remember is to make sure you purchase items that have a long shelf life.

  1. Make a Present List

Make a list of who you will be buying presents for in advance. If you write a present list rather than heading to the shops aimlessly you will reduce the risk of impulse purchases, and by taking the time to decide on a present you might end up giving that special person in your life something they will appreciate more.

  1. Shop Online, Do a Price Comparison check and use Coupons

We are in the middle of a Pandemic so it’s a great reason to avoid the shops and do your Christmas shopping online. The added benefit of online shopping is that you can do a price comparison through your preferred search engines before a purchase. Lastly as an extra saving use an automatic coupon finding extension like Honey for your purchases. Honey automatically finds and applies coupon codes on 40,000+ popular sites.

  1. Use Cashbacks

In addition to tip number 5 make sure you don’t forget to use cashback rewards (use the referral links below to save even more). Cashback rewards work by you utilising a link from a cashback website (rather than a direct link to the retailer). The retailer still sells you your item, as normal, but they will send the cashback site a portion of the profits, and the cashback site forwards a percentage of that money back to you. There is no cost to you to use this service.

Cash Rewards (cashback rewards program) – You’ll get a $10 bonus once you make your first transaction of $20 or more.

ShopBack (cashback rewards program) – You’ll get a $10 bonus once you make your first transaction.

  1. Homemade Presents

I love homemade presents so much, and prefer something someone has made me personally than a store purchased item any day. Homemade doesn’t have to be overly time consuming either. I have in the past made homemade gifts like Vanilla Essence, Biscuits, or even Irish Cream Bailys (all of which didn’t take a lot of time to make). There are so many great ideas for homemade presents on Pinterest (click here for the search results for Homemade Presents).

  1. Presence over Presents

We have a no adult gift rule in our home. My husband and I are super busy and the one thing we love about Christmas is that we get to spend time with our family and friends. It might sound sappy but the older I get the less I care about consumer items, and the best present is spending time with the people I love. The exception to this for us is when someone hosts an event for Christmas, and we will provide a hosting gift. The added bonus of this tip is that you don’t end up giving or receiving gifts that end up contributing to landfill.

  1. Second hand isn’t Second Best

A few years ago my son was into dinosaurs in a big way, and so I naturally planned to buy him some dinosaurs for Christmas. At the time the popular toys were superheroes, and as a result there were very little choices in regards to dinosaurs. So I decided to head online via Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, and I found a local lady selling a huge box of her son’s old dinosaur toys. I snapped up the box for $30, washed them and bought colourful gift boxes to put them in. I then placed them under the tree at Christmas, and my son loved them. He didn’t care that they weren’t new in fact I don’t think he even realised.

  1. Plan your Christmas Lunch / Dinner Menu in advance

I’m not sure about you but the most expensive part of Christmas for us is the food. We swap our frugal staple meals for some ultra special and gourmet Christmas items (such as a nice bottle of French Champagne, and fancy seafood). I believe that planning your Christmas menu (and shopping list) in advance can save you a tonne of money, because you don’t over purchase and you can keep on the lookout for specials in the weeks/months before Christmas.

  1. Start a Christmas Savings Account

If you have issues with dipping into the savings you have set aside then a Christmas Savings Account could be a good way to remove the temptation of withdrawing it. I don’t personally use a Christmas Savings Account so I have not included any recommendations or links. There are quite a few out there so when you do search for it via your search engine make sure to check on things like accessibility of funds, interest rate, and terms and conditions.

12. Skip the Traditional Pine Tree

This tip is controversial so feel free to skip it. We love getting a real pine tree each year, but due to a shortage in our state real Christmas trees are costing well over $120 (and the quality is lacking). So instead we are thinking of skipping the pine tree and purchasing an indoor plant from the nursery. It might not be as cool or hold as many decorations, but it will definitely be a talking point at Christmas (lol).

13. Ditch Christmas Wrapping paper

I’m not sure who needs to hear this but there is no rule that says your wrapping paper has to be Christmassy and match the decorations on your tree. Instead consider buying plain brown wrapping paper in a bulk roll, and use ribbons/stamps/drawings to bring them to life. The added bonus of using brown wrapping paper is that you can use it year round for birthdays and other gifts.

  1. Take your own Christmas Photo

The only gift I ask for each year is a Christmas Photo of me and my beautiful boys (including hubby). My husband is the worst photographer (of me lol) ….. and so having a nice photo of me and the boys every so often is the best gift ever. When the kids were young I used to pay for this every year, but as the price creeped up I just couldn’t justify it at Christmas time. So I have learnt how to take my own (semi) professional photos with me in it. Each Christmas morning after the opening up of the presents the boys all know that their job is to get all dressed up for our Christmas photo. I purchased a cheap tripod some time ago and I set it up with our camera on an automatic timer. We then take photos until we get the money shot (as they say).

  1. Ask Guests to bring what you need (and not whatever they want to bring)

If you are hosting a Christmas Event don’t be afraid to actually ask your Aunt to bring a cheese platter instead of that weird casserole that she likes to bring (and no-one eats including her). Be mindful of people’s budgets when asking for a specific item, but don’t feel bad for asking guests to bring items that you need and will be eaten.

  1. Enjoy your Champagne whilst still keeping Alcohol costs low

Alcohol is another area that can get super expensive at Christmas time. As mentioned previously I love a nice glass of Champagne, but I keep my alcohol costs low by doing the following:

  • Buy a couple of nice bottles of wine and save it for the start of the day (such as for toasts). Then buy regular wine for when the good stuff runs out. Let’s be honest after a few glasses of champagne your mum won’t even remember she’s now drinking Yellowtail (this is actually one of my favourite bubbles for under $10).
  • Buy Alcohol Online (click and collect) in the weeks/months before Christmas Day when your favourites are on special.
  • Buy wine in a half dozen if possible as most retailers provide you with additional discounts.
  • Use cashbacks when buying alcohol online to save even more.
  1. Use Loyalty Programs

The types of Loyalty programs on offer will depend on where you live, but being based in Australia I use both the Flybys Program and the Everyday Rewards Program. Both of these programs often have additional incentives and points to be gained in the lead up to Christmas. Make sure you download any apps related to these programs to ensure you’re notified of any new deals that might save you $.

  1. Save your Loyalty Points for Christmas

This is one of my favourite Christmas tips, and one I’ve used for many years. I save my points up for Christmas instead of using them as they accrue. This does take a little self control, but you’ll be thanking your past self when Christmas comes around and you’ve got a nice little nest egg of points to exchange into gift cards (or other items).

  1. Low on cash for Christmas, think about doing some market research

Sometimes saving money just isn’t enough when you don’t have any spare cash to save. With 20 weeks until Christmas you have time to sign up and do some market research (use this link to find a full list of market research companies I’m signed up with). The majority of the companies I use pay out in gift vouchers so I recommend saving these up until Christmas and exchanging these to pay for Christmas related expenses.

  1. Make your own cards

Lastly save money by not buying Christmas Cards, and opt to make your own (or skip altogether). This year we are going to use the kids artwork, but if you don’t have kids you could write your message on the wrapping paper itself. Get creative 🙂

I would love to hear your best tips for saving money on Christmas so feel free to add a comment below. If you would like to have more articles like this delivered to your inbox subscribe below.

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.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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


  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.


  • 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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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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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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Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on Pexels.com

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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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com