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.

School stationery

January9

Every year Betty gets hit with a huge bill for school stationery. This year we’ve made an extra special effort to go through our drawers and pull out all the old stationery from previous years.   By reusing pens, pencils, books, and other stationery from previous years I’ve saved $71.14. That’s a worthwhile saving.  I would have expected to save about $10 to $20. This is astounding. It’s definitely worth the exercise.

Nuromol gives me a headache

July24

Every time I see Nuromol advertised on TV I get a headache. Why on earth would someone pay a small fortune for this?  A six-pack costs $5.99 at Countdown.  That’s $1 a pill for 200mg of ibuprofen and 500mg of paracetamol.  When will people learn that Nurofen, Panadol, and other branded medicines are incrediby overpriced. If you buy generic paracetamol and ibuprofen from Countdown you’ll pay less than 50c for exactly the same dose.

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.

 

Christmas spending

November4

I have quite strong views about Christmas Spending, but I appreciate that there are other money personalities out there and I’m not necessarily right and other wrong.  I’m intriged as to what others feel on the subject of presents:

1. Why do you give? Do you give to get something in return, do you give becuase it boosts you psychologically, or some other reason.

2. Do you think families should set spending limits on Christmas spending?

3. Do you like receiving money or vouchers?

4. Would you prefer money or vouchers to a present?

5. Does an expensive present mean more to you than a cheap one? (Be honest here)

6. How do you feel when you get something you don’t want?

7.  Any other thoughts about Christmas spending?

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.

Birthday cake topper

September2

I really should do a posting about birthdays.  It’s my son’s birthday today and even though the party is at home it’s cost a small fortune.  I do have to say I was very impressed with EasyCakeToppers.co.uk, from which I bought a Manchester United cake topper.  This is the company’s website: http://www.easycaketoppers.co.uk/

I phoned the company at 9.30pm UK time. To my complete surprise a real person picked up the phone at that time of night and the order went out in the mail the very next morning. The parcel arrived six days after the order was placed and the total cost including postage etc was NZ$13.40. That’s a bargain.

It is even personalised with “Happy 9th Birthday Milo” on it.  When I did a quick Google search last week  I couldn’t find a New Zealand company offering these – although there probably is. Even if I did, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been that reasonably priced.

Eating like a freegan

March15

This is a post originally written for my MSN column:

I’ve twice been accused of being a “freegan” — because I visit friends and family to raid their fruit trees. True freegans, however, shun spending money on anything. They find ways and means to get whatever they need for free.

Freeganism can be taken to real extremes, such as living off the land — or local landfill. You’d have to be pretty dedicated to go that far. Yet all of us can eat a bit like a freegan if we put our minds to it. Here are some suggestions.
Pot roast that bunny: I read once — with mild horror — about Christchurch resident Eng Tang, who checks out small ads for unwanted animals such as pet chickens and rabbits, which he collects for the family dinner.

Get to know your neighbours’ gardens: If your neighbour is a keen vegetable gardener, let them know you’re happy to take any leftover produce. Crops such as silver beet, capsicum, tomatoes, and fruit trees including guavas, lemon and apples may produce more than the property owner can eat. If you’re smart about this and spread your net widely enough you might never need buy fruit again. To thank your donor, pickle or bottle some of the free food they gave you and give it back to them as a present. That’s a sure fire way to be given more raw product.

Take advantage of public fruit trees: Within a 200m radius of my home I’m aware of a large number of olive trees, one apple tree and one feijoa — all on public land. “There’s bush tucker everywhere,” my wide-eyed Australian friend noted, when she visited. Within a kilometre there is a huge overgrown fennel patch in a Department of Conservation reserve and several parks that produce mushrooms. Check with your local council or DOC conservancy office if they’re happy for you to pick the fruit.

Grow your own: Plant fruit trees and other perennial plants, such as silver beet and rhubarb. Even better, get cuttings from your friends or harvest and save the seeds from last year so you don’t need to pay for the plant in the first place.

Build a chicken coop and beehive: My neighbour has both a chicken coop and two beehives, producing more eggs and honey than he can use himself. It costs money to set these up, and effort to look after both. If you discount his labour, then the ongoing cost is nil — providing you put the time in to get the variety of food your chickens need. I know one family that gets waste from the vegie shop for their chickens — although the somewhat eccentric husband, has been known to eat the outer leaves of the lettuce and cabbages himself instead of feeding them to the animals.

Barter: Exchange food or other items with your friends. You could even offer your labour in exchange for garden produce.

Have no shame: You could always check out what local bakeries, restaurants etc do with their waste produce at the end of the day. In the US it’s not uncommon for local freegans (sometimes called dumpster divers) to check out the waste bins at supermarkets. For the record, I could never do this unless life as we know it changes unrecognisably, which is why I’ll never be a true freegan.

Food banks: If you’re really and truly cash strapped, you could contact local churches, many of which have food banks. But these services are meant for the truly destitute.

Learn about edible plants and weeds: You don’t have to look far to find edible plants and weeds. Even weeds such as lambsquarters, dandelion and chickweed can be eaten.

Finally, freegans don’t believe in wasting food even if it was acquired for free. Many believe it’s their social duty to use food that would otherwise be wasted. It’s up to us as individuals as well to eat up all the food we buy instead of letting it go into the landfill.

Baked beans

February20

Way back when I lived in the UK I read an article about baked beans. It was a comparison between Heinz (Watties here in NZ) and Tesco (budget) brand.  It said that there were significantly more baked beans in the branded Heinz can.

I carried out an experiment to compare the contents of Watties and Budget brand beans.  The result was that

I counted 311 beans in a Budget brand can and 430 in a Watties can. That’s a huge difference. I also weighed the beans after they’d been drained for 30 minutes, but the results weren’t relevant. Budget brand has a thin sauce that runs off easily and Watties has a thick sauce that doens’t drain in a collander.  I guess I could have heated them.

We also had a blind taste test.  Both of my children and an adult relative decided they liked the taste of the Watties beans best.

I have since bought a can of Pams’ baked beans and will do a similar test when the time comes to open it.

Happy money saving.

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