Bargain Betty

Bargain Betty’s money savvy tips

Insinkerator – the power of thiking outside the square

December4

My Insinkerator died. Groan.  Even doing a search on PriceMe found that the cheapest Insinkerator 65 (the only one with an airswitch, whihc I needed) was $500.  After considerably shopping around I found a Robin Hood for just $160 that does just the same job. Thanks Harvey Norman for a good deal.  It is a slightly different fit to the Insinkerator, but a plumber did the job for $78 including GST.  Now that’s a bargain.  I would have needed a plumber to replace the Insinkerator, so all in all I saved more than $340. That’s a deal.  If this unit ever dies I’m just going to have a kit put in to convert the sink back to regular drainage.

Olive recipe

April29

Diana’s Devonport olive recipe

Every year I pick a bucket or two of free olives from public trees in Devonport. I then pickle them. Below is the recipe.

Initial pickling

 

For green or black olives

 

  • Once picked, take a sharp knife and slice each and every olive once down to the stone. This isn’t quite a time consuming as it sounds and I usually do it in front of the television
  • Place the olives in a bucket or container filling no more than 2/3rds full.  Fill with water and one cup of salt dissolved in it.  I buy a 15kg bag of salt, which lasts two years.  Otherwise it’s easy to use too little salt and the pickling fails.
  • Weight down the olives with a plate or similar to keep them under the water at all times.
  • Replace the brine daily for best results. If you miss a day here and there it’s not the end of the world.
  • Sometimes the brine goes a bit smelly, or forms a scum on top. This isn’t a huge problem, just replace the water. Also, it’s normal for little bubbles of gas to come up from the olives to the surface.  Again, this is normal. They haven’t gone off.
  • After about six weeks your olives should be ready. Taste them and if they are no longer bitter, then they’re ready for the next step.   If not, keep repeating the process until they’re ready.

 

The final pickling solution is as follows:

 

  • 1/3rd white vinegar
  • 2/3rds brine – made by boiling water in a pan and dissolving the salt and then leaving to cool. (The brine should be 1:10 salt to water ratio)
  • Place olives in bottles (or ice cream containers) and then pour the brine and vinegar solution over them until the fruit is completely submerged.
  • At this stage you can also add any of the following flavourings: grated or whole garlic, basil, oregano, chopped onion, red capsicum, lemon juice and lemon pieces.  Especially popular is a combination of garlic, basil and lemon juice.  I also use cumin, rosemary, peppercorns, cloves, star anise, or whatever I have around.  I tend to do a different flavouring for each bottle.
  • Top up the bottles with a little olive oil to stop air getting to the fruit. Screw the lids on tight.
  • Store bottles in fridge until use.

 

When you’re ready to use your olives:

 

If the strong preserving solution is too strong pour some of it out and replace with lightly salted water. Or if you don’t like the salty taste, you could poor all the solution out and replace with cool water, which will help leach the salt out.   Leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours and taste them.  If they are still too salty for your liking then refill the bottle with a fresh lot of water and return to the refrigerator for a further 24 hours.

Online shopping

April27

Bargain Betty has been a bit slack at posting lately.  Sorry!

But I’ve been thinking about online shopping, since I was introduced to DealExtreme.com by my friends David and Simon.  I’ve just ordered a number of items including a new battery and charger for my Nikon Coolpix camera, and an ultrafire torch as the old technology one I have is hopeless when we’re camping.

Some of my favourite international retailers include Eddie Bauer and I love the La Redoute website for French fashion and for its remarkably reasonable shipping costs. The great thing about buying from northern hemisphere clothes retailers is that our seasons are different and we can take advantage of their end-of-season sales.

But it’s not just clothing you can buy. Virtually anything small and light could be shipped to New Zealand. For example Fusion Beads, an American bead shop, ships here — if you’re into that sort of thing. And just check out the range of doggie clothes at Little Pampered Pets. As well as individual retailers, it’s possible to buy all manner of stuff via eBay.

My latest

Here are some other shops that ship to New Zealand:

Shops that ship to New Zealand

The thing about blogs is that they should be interactive, so please post and list your own favourite overseas retailers who ship to New Zealand.

 

Sony Bravia

September14

Bargain Betty has finally weakened and sold out to the God of wide-screen TVs. I’ve avoided this moment for a long time as I really don’t believe in replacing things that ‘ain’t broke’. My old TV certainly wasn’t broken.  What once looked like a large TV, however, had shrunk. Subtitles and weather information appeared off the screen.

To make the purcahse less painful I have been saving up points on my True Rewards credit card.  I get these points according to what I spend on the card.  Yet I never ever pay interest. So the points are money for nothing.

That, however, is no reason:

a: to treat the points as a bonus. They could have been used to buy a supermarket or petrol voucher, and therefore transferred into cash

b: to buy a more expensive TV than I would otherwise. For the record, I bought the cheapest Full HD 40+ inch TV I could find.

Bargain Betty’s children are very happy.

Lent

March22

For the past 12 years I have given up caffeine and alcohol for Lent every year.  For the uninitiated, that’s the 40 days and 40 nights from Ash Wednesday (usually in February, but this year in March) to Easter.  It’s a type of fast.

I do it for healthy living reasons. But it also has a financial spin off.  I figure that I save at least the cost of five cups of coffee at a cafe a week – amounting to a minimum of $20 and also maybe one bottle of wine a week or perhaps a couple of glasses of wine in a restaurant. That adds up to about $15 to $20 a week.  That’s a nice saving over five weeks.

The maths isn’t quite that simple however. When we went out for dinner at the lovely Manuka Restaurant the other night I bought a $4 Feijoa juice.  But I’m sometimes naughty there and have two glasses of wine over an evening. That amounts to $14 to $18.  So I saved some money.

The other dilemma is how to do the maths at home. I’m not having coffees out, which means that I’m having more hot drinks at home. Some years I allow myself decaf (bought from Chiasso, so not cheap). This year I’m not having decaf, but I’m still having Rooibush tea and Inka, neither of which is cheap. Overall, however, they cost less than Chiasso decaf beans, so I’m saving money.

The best thing is that I feel so self-righteous for five an a half weeks.  It’s not suffering at all.

Cheap holidays

January14

This blog first appeared on MSN at http://money.msn.co.nz/blog.aspx?blogentryid=684861&showcomments=true

Holidays are expensive. It’s something I build into my budget. But I’ve just read that a third of UK parents can’t afford to take their children on holiday this summer.

Many Kiwi parents will be planning their summer holidays at least six months in advance. So it’s time to start planning.

There are ways to keep the cost down and here are some of my favourites:

Staycations
These are about having a vacation at home. But don’t just sit at home — there’s no fun in that. Do touristy things in your own location. If I lived in Wairarapa, for instance, I might schedule in daytrips including a mooch down the main street of Greytown checking out the antique shops, take a trip on Featherston’s Fell locomotive engine and take the kids fishing at Ngawi.

Book a cheap bach or crib
Last year we booked a basic bach at Mangawhai heads for $60 a night. A friend of mine got one for $30 a night on a remote Northland beach. The advantage of a bach over other cheap accommodation is that they’re usually fully furnished, have cooking facilities to save you from eating out, and often come with toys. Our Mangawhai bach had a PlayStation for the kids and kayaks.

Go remote
If you book somewhere in the back of beyond, you’ll avoid spending anything other than accommodation costs and transport to get there and back. I’ve done this — checking into a farmstay hostel north of Kaeo.

Another option, which I often do, is to go on a multiday tramp. That way you’re often only paying to stay at Department of Conservation huts, at $15 a night. When you’re tramping, you can’t even carry an excess of expensive food and alcohol.

WWOOFing
That’s Working Weekends on Organic Farms. WWOOFing has been around for as long as I can remember. The idea is that you stay and sometimes eat free on an organic farm in return for a few hours labour each day.

If you’re cooped up in an office all week, the occasional WWOOFing weekend can be fun. You get to meet interesting hosts who’ve often given up the city life for their dream.

Camping
Away from home camping is one of the cheapest holidays you can have. Flash campsites such as the lovely Top 10 ones can cost more than $50 a night. DOC and local regional council campsites are much cheaper — although they usually don’t have many facilities, but they’re mighty cheap, lots of fun, and often in very beautiful locations.

I’ve even camped in the garden of a friend’s bach for free — with the use of cooking facilities inside.

Cabins and on site caravans
If you don’t like camping you can still rent cheap accommodation on campsites — which are great places for kids. I’ve rented both cabins and caravans at campsites. Cabins are usually cheaper than similar motel rooms — although they can be basic.

The last time we visited the lovely Te Aroha Holiday Park we rented a retro 1950s caravan for just $30 a night for three people.

Home exchanges
This is a great concept. You exchange houses with someone else in a location you want to visit. I’ve done one formal exchange, when I was in the UK, and that worked like clockwork. I’m also always trying to convince friends to swap houses with me.

That way we can have a holiday without accommodation costs. There are a couple of home exchange websites in New Zealand: HomeSwap and HomeLink, although I haven’t personally used either.

So try these out, or share your own stories of cheap holidays with other readers by having your say here.

More information

More on One Day sale websites

January14

I really am a convert to these new one-day-sale websites – as anyone who has read my previous blog would know.

Today I’ve come across Grabonebottle.co.nz, which has some phenomenal bargains.  I don’t actually buy wine for home – because I think it’s a waste of money and not good for you. I do appreciate that most people in New Zealand do buy wine, so I’m happy to share these links and discuss wine bargains.

Financial prescription for the New Year

January10

Financial prescription for the New Year

From my RaboDirect blog – for those of you who resolved to spend less this year:

Gyms, weight loss companies, and self-help authors make a killing in the first week of January as the ghost of Christmas past is turned into hare-brained New Year’s resolutions.

http://www.rabodirect.co.nz/blog/2011/05Jan11-financial-prescription-for-the-new-year.aspx?type=tcm36-95773

Dualit toaster

December15

An email from a work contact:

Hi Diana

I’ve been looking at buying a Dulait toaster for several years but despite the weak Pound the retail price in NZ never changes.

I’ve looked on-line and virtually all the outlets charge the same price:

Milly’s Kitchens        $499
Pantry Magic            $499
Choice Catering $403
Award Appliances        No price, but I think they are the importer so its propbably close to $499.

Then I look on-line at O’Gormans in the UK and its GBP 102 or NZ$214, and for UK customers they do a next day delivery serive for GBP4:60.

It’s another example of NZ consumers getting a raw deal.

So what does “Bargain Betty” have to say??

Jeff

Bargain Betty says: yet another example of the classic Kiwi rip-off. You really do need to shop around – worldwide for things.

Some thoughts about coffee

November12

I’m the biggest hypocrite when it comes to buying coffee.  I don’t believe in buying the daily Latte. But I do it.  I try lamely to justify it by saying it is my sanity time. Or when I’m really being fanciful I suggest it’s a big part of our culture here in New Zealand to drink coffee in cafes. That is true, compared to places like the US and UK. But it’s still not an excuse.

Since the GST rise the price of a coffee has risen way more than the 2.5% rise. I’ve seen lots of cafes put it up from $4 to $4.50 in the past few weeks. For the first time I’m starting to rate cafes not just on the quality of their coffee, but the price.

I have to say that I’ve become way more attached to the Devonport Deli in the past month.  That cafe (where the coffee is decent, but not amazing) sells pre-paid cards for 11 cups of coffee.  That brings the price of the daily latte down to $3.60 per cup (less if you’re a flat white drinker). Admittedly that’s still $3.60 too much. But it’s an awful lot better than $4.50 or even $4.80 that I’ve seen.

Finally, caffeine is an evil drug. It really is. I once read that it’s more addictive and more toxic than LSD.

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