Bargain Betty

Bargain Betty’s money savvy tips

The joys of Trade Me


Buying and selling on Trade Me is a modern day miracle.  No longer do perfectly good things find their way to the tip. Someone, somewhere wants them.

Take a look at My New Zealand Herald article about Trade Me.

Insinkerator – the power of thiking outside the square


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


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


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


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


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

But I’ve been thinking about online shopping, since I was introduced to 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 giving


I’m working on a series of articles for MSN Money about Christmas gift giving.  I founda wonderulf gift-giving pact on

This Christmas, I’m asking you to agree to a
No Unnecessary Present Pact

This year, let’s not send each other gifts that might end up unused, and agree to protect our pockets instead. Your friendship means a lot to me, and a card would be just as welcome as a costly pressie.

I’ve sent you this as part of the No Unnecessary Presents Pact (NUPP) campaign, designed to fight back against Christmas commercial pressures.

If you agree, let me know…

Find out more or send your own free NUPP email at
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Things I won’t save money on


This first ran in my column on MSN:


Most of us could save a small fortune if we gave up some or all of the unnecessary fat in our spending. I often remonstrate with myself about some of my spending. So I’ve decided to blog about what I won’t give up just to save money.

Here are the four things I won’t give up until I’m destitute. WARNING: these examples are bad for your long term wealth and should not be followed:

My car
I’m horribly wedded to that expensive piece of metal. I use it for lots of short trips that could easily be done on a bicycle or foot. It’s on my To Do list to find out exactly how much each trip to the local café or supermarket costs me in dollars and cents. According to Fuel Saver the fuel consumption can vary by up to 55 percent for two people driving the same model of car exactly the same distance just due to their driving habits. I accept that I probably need to own a car. It’s just that I could spend significantly less if I cut out those time-saving short trips.

Café visits
Coffee is a drug. It leaves toxins in your body, makes you fat, it’s an unnecessary waste of money, and so on. The part of the addiction I’d like to can is the café visits, not the drug itself. I guess a shrink would tell me to accept this failing and realise that my daily sojourn in a café is one of my great pleasures in life.

After-school activities
My children do soccer, dance, art classes, cubs, guides and so on — which cost around $10 a session on average. I’m well aware that these activities won’t benefit the children’s future as much as many parents think they will. Even so, it’s giving them opportunities. I sometimes think parents who limit the children’s afterschool activities to one per week and give children time to hang around home, might be doing a better job at parenting than I am.

My pets
I know they’re a black hole when it comes to money. Pets, however, are part of my children’s family. Like all of these items above, I would give them up if I was forced to financially. I’ll budget for them, however, as long as I possibly can.

There are lots of other things other people won’t give up to save money. I searched online about the subject and found a number of bloggers and columnists proffering lists of things they wouldn’t give up to save money:


The trouble with a list like this is that all of these unnecessary things I won’t give up stand in the way of boosting my long term savings. Justify them as I do, the money could be spread more wisely if I didn’t do these things

It’s a fact of life. People who budget enjoy more luxuries than those who don’t. That’s because they’re not frittering money here there and everywhere on things that don’t bring them satisfaction. They set goals and focus emotion on looking forward to a strictly limited number of good things in life.

Your say: What is the last thing you would give up to save money?

Read more:

Christmas spending


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


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.

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