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.

Private label versus Brands


My friends at RaboBank have just released some research about (cheaper) private label products verus brands:


A new global research report ‘Private label vs. Brands – an inseparable combination’ from Rabobank’s Food and Agri Research division (FAR) shows that


  • The global market share of private/own label food products is set to double from the current 25 percent to 50 percent in 2025
  • A-brands will retain their importance for retailers to anchor categories’ price levels and give consumers choice and familiarity
  • Good news for consumers is that they will still have access to familiar brands and have greater access to lower priced private label products
  • Smaller secondary brands (B-brands) will have to strategically reposition to avoid being squeezed out of the market
  • Two strategies are open to B-brands suppliers: either invest in quality and target the premium market, or specialise in private label.
  • A consolidation spree among private label specialists is inevitable to achieve economies of scale and reduce the cost base


For more information visit:

Bargain basement Kiwi holidays


I’m republishing this for Blog4NZ, which is a grassroots blogging and social media effort to support New Zealand travel in the wake of the Canterbury earthquake. It is a worldwide blogging event happening on March 21-23, 2011

For more information about Blog4NZ visit this link.

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.

Bargain Betty on Weblog New Zealand


I have a little introduction to my blog featured today on Weblog New Zealand

Take a look

It’s Friday night. Bring on the pizza


One of our family “traditions” is to have pizza on Friday nights.  The kids invite a friend over, they watch a movie and then eat pizza for dinner. It would never occur to me to buy pizza.  It’s such a no-brainer to make it. Pizza is incredibly easy to make.  I just chuck the pizza-base ingredients in the breadmaker about 1pm, and by 5pm it’s light and fluffy. The ingredients only cost a few cents, compared to several dollars to buy horrible bases from Third World (New World) or ready-made pizza’s from Pizza Hut or Hell’s Pizza (the two local chains).

Then it’s a matter of popping the oven on, rolling out the dough and adding cheese and a few toppings.  You don’t need much on a pizza.  Currently I have an excess of tomato sauce (bought by accident) so will use that instead of pizza sauce (which is usually pasta sauce anyway, because it’s reasonable).

Hey presto. A wonderful dinner costing next to nothing.

Cheap days out


Walk out your front door and it’s easy to start spending money like it’s confetti. I’ve developed a passion that inadvertently is a very cheap way to spend a day. Tramping.

A couple of years back I joined the North Shore Tramping Club in order to get out walking more often. The club has its own bus and joining a day tramp is as simple as turning up at 9am with your gear and jumping on board.

Today we did a five hour hike from the Dome Valley, North of Auckland towards Matakana. Here’s where the money saving happens:  It costs just $15 to go on this trip. That’s less than I’d spend on petrol driving my car to the Dome Valley. What a cheap day out.

Even better, because I’m out in the bush, it’s downright impossible to pop to the cafe for a coffee or other money frittering activity.  I’ve figured out I sometimes save money on a Sunday when I go tramping.

Oh. And. The tramping’s fun too.

Exercise for free


I’ve been flip flopping about the cost of exercise in the past few weeks.  I’ve been a great believer in exercising for “free” in the past. But I was given a free Les Mills Bootcamp (usual cost $299 for five weeks) and have thoroughly enjoyed the grueling experience.  I’m now chewing over whether to sign up and pay for another Bootcamp, or do go back to exercising on my own.  One option could be to go along to the Devonport Xpressos, which go out for a ride twice a week.  I may end up having to buy some new and expensive gear for this…..

Here are some of my previous thoughts, which I wrote for MSN (you can check out my other work on MSN):

Getting fit doesn’t have to involve going to the gym, joining expensive clubs and classes, or having a personal trainer. Just think about the number of people you know who have signed up to the gym or bought a 10-class concession card and never actually gone more than a handful of times.

Try one of these low-cost ways to get into shape:

Run, walk or cycle
Running, cycling and walking are virtually free especially if you already have the gear you need such as shoes or a bike. It’s possible to get very fit indeed if you dedicate yourself to these exercises.

At-home activities
Even if you can’t leave home to exercise, it’s possible to get fit. Old-fashioned exercises such as skipping, step-ups, sit-ups, squats and press-ups really do work.

Buy your own equipment.
It’s not free, but there are fitness aids you can buy for modest prices and use at home. The cheapest of these are probably hand weights, skipping ropes and exercise videos or DVDs. If the kids have a Wii, then consider buying Wii Fit or something similar.

There are even exercise programs on TV that you could record and watch or hire exercise DVDs from the library or DVD shop. If you’re sure you will use it, then buy an exercycle, treadmill or rowing machine. These can be picked up very cheaply second-hand.

Turn everyday events into exercise
That includes walking or running up and down the stairs at work instead of taking the lift. In one job where I worked on the fourth floor I never took the lift. And if you’re a parent, instead of watching your children dance, play tiggy or pass a rugby ball, join in with them.

Think laterally
One idea is to use public exercise equipment. It’s not common, but can be found in parks. In my neck of the woods I know of outdoor equipment at the Ngataringa Sports Grounds, run by the navy in Auckland’s Devonport, and also the Rocket Park in Mt Albert.

At Mt Albert you can bench press, exercise your triceps and more on brightly coloured gym equipment not that different to what you’d get at Les Mills or Just Workout. The navy equipment involves heavy pipes attached to chains that you use like traditional barbells and hand weights.

Get a friend to be your personal trainer, or be each other’s trainer
You can even find buddies online. The key thing about a trainer is that they make you stick to your goals and review your progress. But be careful. It’s easy to get injured if you follow an unscientific routine. If you do choose this option it’s best to download an exercise program off the Internet by searching for “exercise programs” and “work-out routines”.

Gym hop
Julia Neyman, author of the blog “Buns of Steal”, takes lateral thinking to a new level and has found a way to use gyms for free using a technique called gym hopping. “Gyms, yoga studios, karate dojos and the like all want my (nonexistent) money, and they’re willing to lure me with the offer of a free session, or sometimes even a free week. They think it’ll be love at first sweat,” she writes. However, gym hopping is easier if you live in a city the size of New York. There may not be enough gyms in Levin or Westport to do this trick.

Don’t forget that doctors recommend you get a medical checkup before starting a new exercise program.

Have your say: How much do you spend on exercise? Do you have any low-cost options to share?

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Welcome to Bargain Betty’s blog


Bargain Betty has been my alter ego for at least 15 years.  The name “Bargain Betty” was coined by my German flatmate of four years Sylke Joa to describe my prowess at sniffing out a bargain. Sylke was a master at saving money as well and we fed off each other’s ideas.

Over the years I’ve always enjoyed writing articles about the secrets of savvy shopping. From this my blog has been born.

As you will see over time that I’m happiest when conjuring up ideas to save money. The more creative the better.  This also requires you, the reader, to give me topics to investigate and to challenge my ideas.

Happy reading and posting.