Monday, May 21, 2018 I'm saving money in 2018...

 Grab a latte.
Home made of course.
Mine is Chai. I really made this. Truth. Would you expect anything less from me?
Lets talk about saving money....
I watched a new show here called Eat Well for Less. I'm sure they choose the worst possible examples for these shows, but do people honestly spend $700 a week on groceries? Or even $400?
I guess that's okay if you insource in other areas like I've been saying for years now.
But usually, grocery shopping habits are an indicator of other habits, so you have to wonder.
Me? I insource like there's no tomorrow. Or rather like there are many tomorrows, and I want to make the most of them all.
So I never, ever hand over money unless there's no alternative. Well, I do. But I hand money over mostly to SAVE money in another area.
For example, I hand over money for Jamberry heat bonded nail covers. At $11 a sheet or thereabouts, from which I get two manis and two pedi's, I'm laughing compared to a salon mani-pedi. And three weeks worth of wear too!

 I hand over money for the accoutrements to make expensive looking gifts.
Here's my most recent.
$2.50 water bottles with customised metallic gold decals from Mell+Moi on Etsy.
I have Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting to thank for introducing me to Mel and her gorgeous decals.
I fill the water bottles with chocolates for gifting. Bottle recyclable of course!
Total cost? About $13 each. And they look like a $35-$50 gift.
Two have already found new homes, with another 12 ready and waiting.
I shared how I made these last week here.

Of course I hand over money for grocery items. Don't we all?
Last week, I made sure I grocery shopped with a list and a menu plan. I know there's some conjecture on whether this saves money for some families, but all I can say is that here, it works. If I manage to snag a bargain (which I almost always do), I can rejig things. But it's always good to have a plan.
I mostly prefer not to hand over money for someone else to peel, chop, dice, slice, marinate, bake or portion control my groceries.
Instead, I save money by doing it myself. I  prep when I get home, including chopping veges, peeling and cutting up fruit, making yoghurt, poaching chicken, making soup for dinner, boiling eggs for sandwich spread, and soaking beans to make garlic and pepper white beans for breakfasts. Same as your garden variety baked beans, but no tomato sauce. Surprisingly delicious :)
For years now, I've simply done this as part of my grocery shopping routine, and this has saved us literally thousands of dollars.
The show Eat Well for Less showed how even just crumbing your own chicken portions saves $3-$5 per 500gm (1lb.) tray. And how making your own coffee at home instead of spending $2-$6 on bought coffees saves a fortune. In the show, one family could potentially save $17,000 a year by adopting some of these routines. $17,000!!!! That would feed my family for two years!
I know that making my own yoghurt saves us $15 a week using the method outlined here.
I boiled eggs and made curried egg spread. You may laugh, but curried egg and lettuce sandwiches are standard lunchtime fare here. Why does every meal suddenly have to be a gourmet affair? Or even a takeaway affair??
I peeled and quartered my home grown, bowl ripened pawpaws (papaya). Yum. If they're already prepped, I'm more likely to eat them. I love them. They're sweet and nothing like the bland rocks you buy at the supermarket. Pawpaw grows from sapling to fruiting tree is just one year. I have three pawpaw trees, all groaning with fruit. I eat them for breakfast, and grate the green ones into Thai salads. Grow something. It all helps. Have you seen the price of Pawpaws at the shops? $9 a kilo which equates to $6-$9 each fruit. Whaaaat???
I got a big pot of home made chicken soup bubbling away. My soup stock and End of Week Soup recipes can be found here.
While the soup bubbled away, I tossed in a chicken breast, so it could poach in the broth. I let it simmer for about 15 minutes, then removed it, allowed it to cool, and shredded it for sandwiches. All of the lovely spices and flavours in the soup were infused in the chicken and the flavour was wonderful. Remember? We don't hand over money for takeaway lunches here!
I soaked dried white beans in a container of water, for cooking the next morning.
I saved money in as many areas as I could.
My refrigerator was a thing of beauty!

Note that we still splurge on some luxury items. We do hand over money for certain items, so that we don't feel completely deprived. It's important to factor some money into the budget for Fun Food. I talk about this often. See this post here for example.
Husband has his favourite brand of juice and loves the Home Brand Blueberry yoghurt.
Daughter loves the fruit tubs for their sturdiness in her knapsack for University. She also likes the convenience of the single serve cans of tuna for the same reason. I stock up on both of those when on special, as all can be stored in our pantry (or The Shop as I call it), and chilled as required.
We prefer a certain brand of cheese slices, but again, I only buy these when on special, when they equate to a similar price to a generic brand. Otherwise I buy a block of cheese and slice it up myself.
Our 'luxury' items, are really more little things that we buy for the convenience or practicality, and even then I'm particular about the price I pay. If they're not on special, we don't buy them. We slice our own cheese, Daughter takes an apple for lunch, Husband eats plain yoghurt. We don't just buy, buy, buy and justify our spending by saying 'oh....we deserve it.' No.
We recently acquired a Soda Stream. $20 on Gumtree, still in the box and unused. We don't drink soft drinks and sodas at all. BUT we adore our fizzy water. So now, armed with our water bottles labelled Bubbly, or Champers or Moet, we fizz our own tap water, and decant it. It's rather posh swigging fizzy water from a bottle labelled 'Moet'!
Meal-wise, we don't hand over money for someone else to cook very often at all these days.
 I make my own gourmet Beans on toast...fresher than the usual...

Home grown pawpaw (papaya), gets peeled and sliced into wedges, ready to eat for breakfast too. Drizzled with Pear, Cinnamon and Vanilla syrup made from over ripe pears, it's a café` worthy treat.

Yoghurt parfaits are conjured up for the morning rush as well. These are Morello cherry, vanilla yoghurt and gluten free granola. Yum for desserts as well. We don't hand over money for someone else to plop a bit of fruit, yoghurt and muesli into a tub for us. Why on earth would you? It's a three minute task to load up enough for three days!

Note the portion sizes. Just because you have a bigger container, doesn't mean you have to fill it. The purchased tubs are tiny. Keep your serves similar, otherwise you're not necessarily saving money at all!

Look what a pleasing sight they make lined up ready to go, at eye level in the fridge.

I portion my own bacon and deli meats too. I check both the deli and the refrigerated section, noting the price per 100gms, and choose accordingly. The best buys can vary from week to week. This week I stuck with buying the bacon labelled 'Economy Bacon'. I never regret this. The cuts are more meaty and generous, and I portion these up into meal sized packages, freezing all but one to keep on hand for quick BLT's or Bacon and Eggs for breakfast, thus avoiding handing over money for those meals in cafe's. Honestly, in the scheme of family eating, who needs cafes??
Of course, the grocery shopping and meal preparation are not the only ways we save around here.
We insource all kinds of things.
This week I made cards. Have you seen the price of a card these days? $6-$12 if you don't mind. Sure you can buy a very ordinary one for $1, but why would you when you can make a dozen really lovely ones for that?

These are just printed on normal A4 paper, picture placed strategically upside down in top left hand corner on the screen, sentiment similarly strategically placed right way up in bottom right hand middle corner, printed out, and folded in quarters to form the card. A strip of chiffon or tulle tied prettily along the folded edge, finishes them. So pretty and cost of about 5c each. We don't hand over money for things like cards.
Family health is important too. Especially in the chilly Winter weather.
I recently handed over money for some little amber glass spray bottles and a few more customised decals from Mella + Moi.
I then did some research, both of my Mums handwritten recipes for aromatherapy, and online, and came up with a blend for sanitiser sprays.
 Those hand sanitiser sprays have been a huge hit. Based upon the Four Thieves blend, but with my own twist, they look super cute, smell great, and so far, so flus or ills and chills here.
Kist is an abbreviation of 'Kills Stuff'.
I'll leave it to your imagination what Kish is short
 Finally, we don't hand over money for gifts too much if we can help it. Sometimes a significant birthday, or a birthday for the men in the family will have us stumped. But that's fair enough, because we insource gifting as much as humanly possible. That's one of my jobs as Homemaker.
You may remember my doll panel doll I made last year, leading up to the Festive Season.
She was so well received that I've made a few more...

Pretty adorable, right?
Just a few sequins, beads, buttons or bits of embroidery, and they're super special.
Honestly, anyone can make these.

And here's those water bottles. All labelled up, ready to be filled as seen, with chocolates chosen to suit the recipient.
Even the most craft challenged person could manage this. Order the labels well ahead of time though, as Mel gets very busy and they can take up to six weeks.

Of course all of these lovely gifts need to be wrapped as well.
We don't hand over money for gaudily printed gift wraps.
I bought 5kgs of butchers paper from a party supplier about six years ago. You buy it by weight. Funnily enough.
We use it plain, embellish it with writing, stamp it with words or roses, swathe it in ribbon or cover it in cellophane, also bought in bulk.

I actually gift the hand scribed wrap above to other people to use to wrap gifts.
My daughter just wrapped her boyfriends gift, using these techniques. I've taught her well ;-)
What I'm saying is this....
We only hand over money when absolutely necessary.
Otherwise we INSOURCE.
Insourcing this week saved me big time.
I estimate I saved $150 by prepping my own groceries, making my own yoghurt, marinating, baking, poaching, boiling eggs, assembling yoghurt pots and so on.
I saved by making my own lattes...about another $60.
Gifts? Gosh. $700 saved. Minimum. Seriously. No, really!
Hand Sanitiser? Another $150, easily.
Cards? I made two dozen. 24 times the value of the cards I'd like to buy? Let's say $8 is the usual price of the ones I like the look of. That's $192 I would have spent if I'd bought cards at the last minute like most people do. I spent about $10 making them, including the paper, the ink, the stick on crystals on the black ones, and the scraps of chiffon and tulle. I've saved $182. And if you think that's ridiculous, start taking note of the price of cards and how often you think you need to buy them!
Gift wrap the same. I've had that original 5kg batch of paper for six years now. I've saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars over that time. This week, we'll just call it $10, okay?
$50 saved on a mani-pedi.
Oh! And I cut my own hair, deep conditioned it, and blow dried and straightened it, then curled the ends. That's a $120 saving, if ever there was one!
Are you ready for this?
This week, I lived well, looked good, gifted generously, planned ahead, fed my family café quality meals, kept us healthy, maximised our water intake, and still had time to have a mini break for two days near the water, and saved myself $1422 on what I would have spent if I'd outsourced everything, instead of insourcing those tasks.
That's the savings.
That's not factoring what I still actually spent into the equation.
Here's what my outgoings were:
Groceries $148
Jamberry nails $11
Chiffon and tulle for cards, from scraps
Ink cartridge $35
Decals from Mella+Moi $90 for 12 water bottles and 16 hand sanitiser sprays
Essential oils, witch hazel and glycerine $120
Bottles and spray bottles $40
Chocolates to fill bottles $16
Doll panel bought last year 6 dolls for $5
Total $465
I spent $465 on feeding the family well, top notch personal grooming, family health and wellbeing, glamorous gifts and girly gifts to last between now and Christmas, cards and gift wraps for the next six months, and had a ball doing it all.
Actually it was far less than that. The expense for the decals, essential oils and bottles was actually apportioned over the last six weeks, so you could divide that $250 by 6, and add in a single weeks percentage, and my ACTUAL spend last week would be $41 on those items, not $250. That would make my total....
Just digest that for a moment.
If I were a different person, I would have spent $2,232 on doing the same thing.
I've spent just a little over 1/10th of that amount to achieve the same outcome.
It's hard to fathom, isn't it?
But it's true.
I know people who do this. And they're proud of it, like it's some sort of badge of honour.
It all just goes on the Fantastic Plastic aka The Credit Card.
They don't think twice about it.
Don't you go there.
Live well. Plan ahead. Put some effort into your own life, and feel GOOD about it.
I know I feel good. Content. Accomplished. In control of life.
How about you?
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  1. I just love the way you describe saving money and making good choices! Insourcing is smart!! I admit that on some of these things I'm frugal and smart, on others I'm lacking self discipline. It's a process though..don't you think? Thanks so much for these great ideas, Mimi. Pinning!

    1. Hi Stacey! Yes! Insourcing is SMART! It's not about deprivation or DIY for the sake of it. It's improving the lives of those around you with clever thinking, clever planning, and clever spending. I never say 'don't spend'. That's not realistic. I just advise discretion in where you spend. Thankyou for the lovely comment Stacey. I really appreciate the pin too! Mimi xxx

  2. While I consider myself to be quite frugal, this post has given me much food for thought. Your writings about insourcing are my favorites. Thank you Mimi.

    1. Thankyou Anne. What a lovely thing to

    2. Anne, you took the words right out of my mouth! These posts reflect where I am right now, and I always learn something new. Thanks Mimi

  3. Very well done Mimi! I began making cards a couple of years ago. I challenge myself to use materials I already have at home, which uses up craft supplies that have been sitting around for years. I did allow myself to buy some ribbons and black card, but apart from that I have been doing well using what I already have at home. I think of it as a triple win - I am decluttering, saving money and being creative at the same time.

    1. Debbie I love that you challenge yourself to use what you have on hand. That is exactly how my cards came about. Here I was admiring Annabels cards over at The Bluebirds are Nesting, when I thought...hang on a tic...and I was off and running! Yes! Declutter, create, save. A great motto. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. I love that show Mimi! I agree it is staggering what some of the people spend on groceries, but I always feel so happy for them when they realise what a few changes can save them. There was a special Christmas show last year, and the family threw away all of the leftovers because they didn't know how to make new meals from them. Mind blowing!

    These are always my favourite posts of yours, and I really like that you are upfront about the costs of things. I say that because sometimes it is possible to spend money to save money, as you have shown here with the water bottles. And sometimes, that money is not there, and gifts literally have to be made from what's on hand. You've shown many examples of these types of gifts before too. I love that you show ways to cover all situations, and that you are always coming up with fresh ideas.

    I'm feeling very inspired to use up some craft supplies to make Christmas presents. I have some ideas for kids, now I need to think of useful gifts for adults. I know it's months away, but I hate getting to November and wishing I'd started sooner. I still love your princess dolls, will add them to the list!

    Have a lovely week :)

    Jen in NZ

    1. Dear Jen, your comment makes me so happy. I would have loved to see the show about the Christmas food waste. That is why we enjoy simple meals at Christmas these days. We set the table beautifully, eat simply and still have a ball. I've always believed that you CAN spend money to save money, but you have to have a PLAN. Going at it like a bull at a gate does nobody any favours. Analyse what you're actually capable of with children underfoot or a full time job or whatever, and go from there. Just because I say so, doesn't mean it's a good idea for YOU. And remember, you don't have to make a dozen snazzy water bottles, you can just make one at a time. I too, hate getting to November, and thinking....oh, if only I'd started in! Good luck. You'll love those dolls. Congratulations on the arrival of your beautiful daughter too Jen. Love, Mimi xxx

  5. Dear Mimi this is so lovely to read. And kind of heartwarming. That tv show made me feel there is no hope in the world and there is no cure for stupid.
    The water bottles are so stylish ... the beautiful labels make things just look gorgeous. Simple and elegant. Remember the social media thing that happened when that man said the young ones could save for home deposits if they gave up smashed avocado at cafes... of course he used that as an example but he was saying what you have just said more or less. he was attacked s surely one can not be serious that in order to save you should have to do anything yourself! Heavens! It turns out he is a friend of my Aunts! He studies social trends and behaviour... very interesting! This was a joy to read and we have a lot of power in our hands. I think there are good times and not so good times. In good times be a bit of a Squirrel. But the smashed avocado set what will they do in bad times? feast on memories I guess! Love

    1. Dear Annabel, yes I agree. I was sort of astounded, dumbfounded and sad, all at the same time. I couldn't believe that in this day and age, with information at our fingertips like never before, that people could be so blasé`. I'm glad you like the water bottles. You inspired them you know. Mel and her decals...a new addiction I the best possible DIY way! Yes I remember the smashed avo thing. Husband still jokes about it. Who is that silly? Well I mean lots of people obviously are, but still. How interesting that that guy knows your Aunt. Six degrees of separation! Very interesting indeed about studying social trends...I bet that's revealing in all kinds of ways you don't want to know. We are powerful, aren't we? I think so too. And that power brings contentment beyond anything a spend-a-thon provides. Love, Mimi xxx

  6. Hi Mimi, your post speaks to my heart.

    Our Katie had a weekend with her boyfriend in Brisbane to see Aladdin. They stayed with friends and took groceries with them to feed themselves and the friends, as a thank you for having them. Katie and Jared are saving for a home together and are focussed on saving as much money as they can whilst still living a good life. I think Bluey and I, and Jared's parents, have done a good job in raising children who are finacially aware adults.
    Last night on the news there was a segment on how young parents want more 'Me' time and 'Date nights', and HAVE to factor these into their budgets. HAVE to? I dont get either of these concepts.
    Cafe food always disappoints me. Sometimes it is the food itself or it might be the cost of that food. Recently there was a News item of a cafe selling deconstructed vegemite toast for $8. This was a piece of sourdough toasted with vegemite smeared across the plate. WHAT????? It doesnt take much effort to plate up simple food to look delicious.
    With the right attitude and effort saving money by insourcing can be a bit of an adventure. A good adventure with very pleasing outcomes.

    1. Dear Jane, I hear you, I hear you, I hear you. What is this new madness? Deconstructed Vegemite Toast for $8? Are people insane?? I wonder if this is a life experience thing for we people of a certain age, or whether it's the era in which we grew up? Going to a café for lunch was unheard of when I was young. We went to the Coles cafeteria and had a waffle with icecream and caramel topping and that was a huge, I mean HUGE treat once a year in the Christmas holidays. Nobody but lonely pensioners actually ate a MEAL there. It just wasn't done. This whole Café Society thing is out of control. People refuse to drink instant coffee, tea has to be Chai or some supposedly exotic blend, and there are 15 kinds of milk to be had. I am all for catering for food sensitivities, but really? As for Date Nights, Babymoons and other 'time for the parent' ideas, well, again, I'm all for preserving the marital relationship. But what's wrong with putting the kids to bed early and having a good old fashioned roll in the! Good for you and Jareds parents for raising sensible, grounded young people. I think we did the same. Although it's harder and harder to maintain that influence in this day and age. You can only hope the lessons stick. Attitude and effort...exactly, and life can be a good adventure. I love it. Mimi xxx

  7. Dear Mimi. What a very encouraging post. I am just starting out on card making, after reading posts by yourself and Annabel. I am looking upon it as a challenge and am willing to have a go. Same with everything really, we have to be prepared to learn and use what we have learned to care for our families and make our own lives more interesting. Best wishes Lyn

    1. Dear Lyn, card making is such a great place to start. Even at $1 each, they can still be more expensive than you'd like for what you get. Have an open mind. The ones I started making years ago, are nothing like the ones I make now. And sometimes the simplest things are the most striking. Have

  8. Quite impressive Mimi. I used to do a lot more before I started this
    cancer treatment. Hopefully, this summer will be more productive than
    last summer. Christmas was kind of depressing last year because I didn't
    make anything at all. That's always been part of the fun and challenge.
    I will have surgery again this fall, but hopefully, I'll feel well enough to create.
    Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,

    1. Dear Laura, I think there are reasons and seasons. Over the last twelve months, your reasons and seasons are different. Fighting a potentially life threatening illness takes priority over everything else. I know what you mean though. I often say, do things while you still can. That can mean short term like hang the washing while there's sunshine, or it can mean longer term like bake, create, nest and stockpile in case you become ill or have an accident or emergency in the family. Take pride in what you have already achieved and take the necessary steps to get well my lovely. Your time to create will return. Now it's time to heal. Love, Mimi xxx

  9. Wow, this is so motivating. Thankyou. Kaye.

  10. Very inspiring post!. I switched over to cooking more when our local diner closed in January. We never went a lot but it was nice to know there was an option if need be. The food was so good. Home style cooking never had a bad meal. Oh well. On to better things!
    I love the doll panels that you made up, so pretty!
    Could you share your recipe for the white beans and garlic? Just the thought of them makes my mouth water.

    Thank you I just love this post. Laurie

    1. Laurie, I think this is where the U.S. differs from Australia and some other countries. It's actually quite expensive to eat out here. We don't have 'diners' like you do where you can feed your family readymade, almost as inexpensively as homemade. Cafe's serve plainer meals sometimes, but they're not 'home made' fare. They're a so called up-market version of burgers, avocado on toast and steak and fries, all for the price of around $20 a head! As for my white beans and garlic, you just soak some white beans in water overnight, then drain, cover with fresh water, and simmer till tender. Or you can use tinned white beans. Drain them well, rinse under running water, then toss in a pan with a glug of olive oil, a crushed garlic clove or two, and season it well with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. That's it really. Strangely delectable on buttered toast :) Mimi xxx

    2. Thank you so much for your recipe instructions. I was able to find a similar recipe on Pinterest the difference being they added fresh sage to it. So glad I didn't buy any since yours doesn't call for it!
      We do have those expensive restaurants also for something so simple as breakfast like french toast costing 6 or 7 dollars for something you can make at home. I can buy a loaf of the texas toast, big slices of eggy bread for about a dollar and make them myself.
      We just came back from a road trip and we did eat out, way too much in my opinion but that's the way it goes. Just so glad to be home in my own kitchen and cooking healthy and not watching my dollars fly away. This is my soap box too!

  11. Mimi, you certainly have lots of good tips there. We have always lived very frugally not only because we had to but because that was the way we were brought up and we chose to live this way. You are so very creative with your gift giving I must say. Those cards look just lovely. You and Annabel could be twins. LOL!

    1. Thankyou Chel. Yes we live frugally by choice too. There's a peace and contentment in knowing that you can I think. The cards do look pretty don't they! I laughed at Annabel and I being twins. It seems so sometimes, doesn't it. We laugh at it ourselves often! Mimi xxx

  12. Mimi, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Heaps of good information and inspiration as usual. I particular love to hear about your food preparation tips and fridge storage etc. It gives me ideas on what I could prepare ahead of time and have on hand. Thanks

    1. That's gratifying to hear Del. Thankyou. It's one of those things I assume everyone knows until I watch something like that show, Eat Well for Less! Mimi xxx

  13. Mimi, thankyou for once again writing a very inspiring post. I get discouraged by the world at times and unfortunately am the receiver of very some negative comments aimed at the fact I have chosen to stay at home with my daughter instead of working outside our home. What I instinctively feel is possible - you articulate beautiful, which gives me piece of mind and a better way to live to aspire to. I have long given up trying to argue back. I too watched that program on telly with fasinastion. Interestingly my cousin visited me recently, her household consists of two adults - they spend $400.00 a week on groceries as well as eating out at least twice a week - that is mind boggling to me. Thankyou for sharing your ideas and strategies they personally help me so much. Clare T

    1. Dear Clare...I too have had the negative, the sneers, the nasty comments. It IS disheartening to go against mainstream thinking. But now that we are reaping the rewards, I feel so good about our 'odd' ways. Don't argue. Be at peace with who you are and what you achieve. I'm so happy to have your feedback. Mimi xxx

  14. Love this post thank you- the way you describe the savings you make is very inspirational. I always love your gift ideas as this is a area I often fail in and grocery shopping lol

    1. Aly, I'm glad you found it helpful. We all fail from time to time. We're only

  15. "Live well. Plan ahead. Put some effort into your own life, and feel GOOD about it." So well put, Mimi! Thanks for the inspiration. Tracy in the UK. X

  16. I understand now when you say the cards are $8.00 yes the ones that are so pretty like yours are. You do a beautiful job!

    1. Vickie, thankyou. You're sweet to say so. Mimi xxx

  17. Mimi
    I love your posts. You are always an incredible inspiration, that home making is not for those lacking in ambition, as I have heard at the school gate. Thank you

    1. Alexis, that really makes my day. Thankyou. And ignore the naysayers. They actually do not have a clue what they're on about. It takes enormous discipline, planning, ingenuity, grace, patience, and sheer hard work to be an accomplished homemaker. Made all the more difficult by a society that does not value homemaking as a skill. We do value you. I value you. Keep doing what you're doing Alexis. It's important. Mimi xxx


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx