Monthly Archives: December 2012

Today’s bargain – goldfish!

Fish

Today my Mum decided to buy four goldfish. My parents have a pond in the outside courtyard where there is already one fish they’ve dubbed Nemo. Mum wanted some more fish to keep Nemo company so we went to a pet store. We were eyeing some beautiful coloured fish, but the store attendant came over and told us which fish can live outside, ruling out a lot of the more exotic fish. In the end we chose four large Comets.

The great thing was we thought the fish were $8.50 each, but when we got to the counter we found they were on special for $7.50. So we saved $4. Isn’t it great to get a bargain even when you’re prepared to pay full price?

 

 

 

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The cat conundrum

My parents have the world’s cutest cat, called Maui. Every time I visit I realise that I want to see Maui just as much as I want to see my parents. Isn’t that terrible?

Maui’s a dark brown Burmese (I think it’s called seal) and at the moment she’s curled up next to me, purring. She loves warmth, and tried to sit on my laptop, before I moved her away. She likes sitting on whatever you’re paying attention to. So if I was reading a newspaper, she’d be sitting on that.

It always gets me thinking – maybe I should have my own cat. Then I think about the vet bills, the food bills, the cleaning up after the cat’s vomited bills, the cost of worming tablets, the toys…you get the picture. I also travel, at the end of the year I can be away from home for three to four weeks, so I’d either have to get a catsitter or pay for a kennel.

But is the unconditional love I’d get from a cat worth the expense? Is coming home and having something there waiting for me worth more than all the costs. I’m beginning to wonder.

I guess the biggest drawback is that I might move back to Australia at some stage. While it’s not that hard to move a pet between NZ and Australia, I think I’d have troubles finding a place to rent if I had a cat.

So logically, I don’t think it makes sense to get to a cat. But emotionally, I really want one! Especially one like Maui 🙂

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Credit cards aren’t all bad

I’ve read a lot of budgeting posts which say that credit cards are bad, and that cash is the only way to go.

I disagree. I use my credit card to budget for the month, and I get frequent flyer points as I go.

I always pay my credit card off in full though when it is due. And I think that’s where the problem lies. If you only pay off the minimum, you can get into serious debt.

I buy everything on credit. Even my $4 coffee in the morning. I’ve even been known to put $1.50 on my credit card.

I have a limit each month and if I’m getting close to that limit, I wait for the next month before making any purchases that can be put off.

By putting things on credit, I can keep my money in the bank for an extra month, earning me interest. Better in my pocket than in the bank’s!

And because I always pay off my card every month I have a really good credit rating, which meant I could get a mortgage without any problems. Credit cards aren’t all bad.

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It pays to shop around

The corner store with nectarines and peaches at $10.99 per kilogram

The corner store with nectarines and peaches at $10.99 per kilogram

So I’m on holidays in Sydney at the moment, and I wanted to buy some groceries. I’m staying in Waverton and there’s a local IGA just up the road. I needed a few basic items, like milk and bread, but I also liked the look of the fruit and veggies. So I bought a nectarine and a peach. Together they cost me just over $4. Not cheap!

I just wanted to shop somewhere close though, and didn’t want to drive – so I walked to the IGA, and thought it was worth the additional expense.

The larger store with much cheaper prices

The larger store with much cheaper prices

Today I went to Woolworths in Northbridge, a much larger supermarket, and amongst other things bought three nectarines and three peaches. Check out the receipt! Nectarines were $3.98 per kilo and peaches were $4.98 per kilo. That’s a big difference. I got six pieces of fruit for $3.65.

Yum! Three peaches and three nectarines for the price of one of each.

Yum! Three peaches and three nectarines for the price of one of each.

Yes, I paid for the petrol to get my car to the supermarket. And yes, the fruit was a little bit smaller at Woolworths than at the IGA,  but the difference is phenomenal.

I guess it’s not really rocket science, but it just goes to show how much you can save on simple groceries if you shop around. And if it hadn’t been for writing this blog I may not have noticed just how much I’d saved!

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Mystery shopping

Wouldn’t it be great to get free petrol? Well, when I was a mystery shopper I used to get reimbursed for $20 petrol and $2 for an in store purchase. I’d often get two or three of these shops in one day, so I could fill my car up.

In the end though, it just wasn’t worth the hassle. For each assignment I did, I had to drive to a petrol station, and then had to fill in a long questionnaire and submit a photo of the receipt online when I got home. The paperwork had to be done that day.

That wasn’t so bad though. It was the fact that I kept getting called by the mystery shopping company to take McDonald’s assignments. I’m not a big fan of the Golden Arches, I find the food just sits in my tummy making me feel a bit queasy. But they just kept calling, offering me up to three jobs a day and a bonus if I took the assignment.

Finally, I just felt like a spy, basically dobbing in the staff when they did things wrong. Not very nice, particularly when these people are working behind the till for hours. I reckon most of them knew I was a mystery shopper because I’d ask for receipts. I had to. But who asks for receipts at McDonald’s?

I complained a lot to my family and friends about the mystery shopping, and they just kept telling me to quit. But I actually really needed the free petrol, so I couldn’t quit. That’s when I decided that I would only do the petrol assignments.

Then I got fired! I found out it was because I told one woman who called to ask me to do another McDonald’s job that I wouldn’t take any more of their assignments. Apparently choosing not to do McDonald’s assignments was a sackable offence. Can you believe that! Being fired from a job you don’t want!

Then a few weeks later they started calling me again with assignments. I think there must only be a small group of mystery shoppers in Wellington, and they couldn’t afford to lose me.

The calls just kept coming, so I decided to quit, turning down any jobs they offered, but I kept looking at the website every so often, just to see if a petrol assignment came up. The calls still kept coming, despite telling them I wanted to quit, and it wasn’t until one of the woman calling said “But you were on the website yesterday” that the penny dropped. They were tracking when I logged into their site, and the only way to quit was to stop looking online for any more assignments. Even petrol assignments. So I bit the bullet and stopped looking. And then finally they stopped calling.

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Phone savings

If you’re like me, one thing you do well is talk. On the phone, for long periods of time. However, I don’t like paying a lot for talking on the phone, and for that reason I have a land line with internet at home (although I could probably get VOIP, I use Skype a lot instead) and I have three mobile phones.

Why three mobile phones?

One is a work mobile phone. I didn’t actually want to have a work phone, but was told that everyone else was getting one, so I should too. It’s a smart phone, but I don’t like using it a lot, as only the first $10 is free for me, then I have to pay work for the extra.

I have a prepaid NZ phone with 2 degrees. It’s extraordinarily cheap for sending text messages, which is what I use it for mainly. If I need to make calls to mobiles I will either do it from work, or from home using a calling card. Much cheaper that way.

My third mobile phone is an Australian mobile phone. When I moved to New Zealand I didn’t want to lose my mobile phone number, as I was only meant to be gone 10 months. It’s 3.5 years later and I’m still living in New Zealand, but I do travel back to Australia quite regularly.

So I still have my Australian mobile, but I use a company could Planet ISP, which has just become Think Mobile. The great thing about this company is I pay as I go. It’s not even prepaid, so I don’t have to buy more than I’d use. I just get a bill each month for my calls and texts, which is often zero, because I don’t really use it when I’m in New Zealand. But in Australia I use it to text people and have them call me. I’m lucky, I can use a landline to call out on when I’m in Australia.

My old Nokia mobile phone which I still use when I'm in Australia

My old Nokia mobile phone which I still use when I’m in Australia

As you can see, I just use an old Nokia in Australia, all the letters have rubbed off, and it doesn’t hold its charge like it used to, but it still works well, and it’s really all I need.

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Car pooling

One easy way to save petrol money is to car pool. Usually it’s me doing the driving in my car, but yesterday I got a lift with my parents to their holiday house which is 1.5 hours north of Sydney. I’ll get a lift back with my sister in a couple of days time. Perfect.

With petrol rising at least 10 cents a litre around Christmas and New Years, I saved by not having to fill my tank. Car pooling is also good for the environment, and I get to spend extra time with parents and sister which I like (and hopefully they like too!)

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