Tag Archives: budget

How can you tell if cream is off?

I’ve been visiting friends in Sydney, and today I was treated to scones by an old friend I met in my University days.

I arrived a little early, and while I was taken by her husband on a tour of the new house renovations, she put the scones in the oven.

Then we went to buy the cream. We visited three corner stores, none of which had any cream, but the fourth shop had two containers right at the back of the fridge.

The man behind the counter shook his head and said look at the Use By Date. One was 20 December – obviously well past it. But the second was dated 29 December. Hmm – maybe that one will be alright?

The man shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’ll sell it to you for $1. They’re usually $2.50.” I’m not sure that’s exactly legal, but my friend took out a $1 coin and we walked home with our cream.

After sniffing the cream and deeming it to be safe, she took out an old handbeater, not an electric one. One of the old ones with the handle on the top, not the side. I actually bought one the same in Levin near Wellington for $4. They’re just weighted so much better. And after beating it for 5 minutes, we had whipped cream. Fresh scones straight out of the oven, with a bit of strawberry jam, and whipped cream…is there anything better?

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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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Honesty boxes

Tomorrow at stupid o’clock (ie I have to be up at 4am) I’m on a flight to Sydney. Yay, for holidays!

I’ll be gone for a few weeks, so I’ve been depleting the perishables in my fridge. Today, I only have some carrots, a tomato, a cob of corn, some cheese and an egg left in the fridge.

Not much for dinner really. But I didn’t want to buy anymore food because it would just be wasted.

At the bottom of the building where I work the cafe often puts out food at the end of the day that hasn’t sold with a bowl saying “$2 please”. I’ve never used it before, but today I was lucky to get the last salad. It had heaps of broccoli, a little bit of cheese, and even some capers. A healthy dinner, so I bought it.

Yummy salad bought for $2 using the honesty box

Yummy salad bought for $2 using the honesty box

I ate my last piece of fruit, a banana, yesterday so I was wondering what to take with me to the airport to eat for breakfast. I’ve chosen the cheapest plane ticket, so I’ll be getting no food on the plane. At 4am I won’t be hungry, but at 6.40am when the plane leaves I’ll probably want breakfast. So the honesty box at work came to the rescue. For $1.30 (which is the usual price at the cafe at work – I have debated whether it’s OK to put in less because it’s old food) I bought a leftover date scone. I’ve put it in a plastic bag ready for eating tomorrow.

The date scone that I'll eat for breakfast tomorrow

The date scone that I’ll eat for breakfast tomorrow

I read somewhere that a guy did some research on honesty boxes and found that people were more likely to be honest the day after pay day and more likely not to pay the day before pay day. I guess it makes sense. They used to have a chocolate box at work with an honesty system but they had to remove it because people were basically stealing the chocolate bars. I for one am a happy customer today!

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Sewing up a storm

The pinafore I sewed for myself which I'll give to my little niece

The pinafore I sewed for myself which I’ll give to my little niece

Have you ever gifted something you wanted to keep for yourself?

I got really excited a few weeks ago when I bought five pieces of funky fabric for $1 each (so $5 in total). I sewed a bag for my sister and one for a colleague, both of which I would have liked to keep for myself.

Then I started on a project to sew a gardening pinafore. I followed the 1970s pattern, but when it was complete, it wouldn’t even fit over my head! I couldn’t even fit it on the mannequin I bought recently.

So I’m going to give it to my little niece for Hannukah/Christmas. I hope it fits her!

And on that same note, it was Christmas bookclub on Wednesday night where we play our own version of Secret Santa. Each of us has to bring a wrapped book that we’ve “loved in the past. Or think you would love. Preread/ preloved is fine.”

Secret Santa present, a copy of Tim Winton's Cloudstreet wrapped with brown paper and material ribbon

Secret Santa present, a copy of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet wrapped with brown paper and material ribbon

I’d bought a practically brand new copy of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet for a creative writing course I never started. I’ve read and loved Cloudstreet in the past, so I wrapped it up. I used brown paper that I’d received when I bought some graph paper for the pinafore project, and the ribbon was actually a piece of scrap material from my sewing projects.  The wrapping definitely wasn’t the prettiest but it did the trick and I’m pleased to say that Cloudstreet was a hit too, being “stolen” in the Secret Santa twice (the maximum number of “steals” allowed).

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