Archive for February, 2009

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The expensive plums

February 24, 2009

Mum always used to scrutinise the docket after every grocery trip, but it’s not a thing I do diligently.

Good thing I did this weekend though. I bought plums at the supermarket (sorry Che, I was never going to get to the market on Sunday morning after Cuba St Carnival) and I thought gosh, that total’s a bit high. Then I spotted the half dozen plums at $27…

I’ll be checking the docket every time from now on.

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Cornucopia

February 22, 2009

I think the last post like this I did was during the winter.

But guess how much this bowl of fruit and veges cost me, and all from the Waitangi Park markets?

It’s broccoli, a couple of spuds, corn, capsicums, plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and a cucmber. I had to leave out the 2kg of Roma tomatoes I found for $2kg (that are currently in the oven being semi-dried).

A modest amount of fruit. I also had to leave a bunch of the stone-fruit out because the bowl was over-flowing.

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Banking strategy

February 16, 2009

One of the many effects of “the current economic situation” is that interest rates offered by banks have dropped enormously. This is good news for those who already owe debts, but it’s pretty crap for people who are saving cash.

The banks have not of course lowered their fees, and this means that we now have an interesting situation.

Lots of banks have account types where the monthly fees can be quite chunky.

The accounts I have with Kiwibank have a some very useful features, including interest on the group balance, but if your group balance is less than $4000, the account fees are $15 per month.

$15 per month is a lot. In fact, avoiding this is like earning 4.5% after tax on your $4000. It would be better, in fact, for me to have that $4000 minimum balance at no interest than to have it in an ordinary savings account. Given that you do get interest, it’s even better. Interest rates will have to get back to the heady levels of a year ago before the economics make it best to put every cent in the high interest call account again.

Conclusion 1: if you have the sort of fancy transaction account where a minimum balance is required to avoid fees, and you have that amount somewhere else, it may well pay you to move it back to your transaction account.

Conclusion 2: in looking around while writing this post, I see a lot of banks have accounts that are either free, or only $5 per month, if you don’t need a cheque book or make a lot of transactions in a branch. It would also pay to move to such an account unless you really need those extra features.

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Do yourself a Favour

February 10, 2009

And do not buy your fruit and vegetables at the supermarket (if you can help it).

I just got back from New World and was shocked to see that, other than being a minimum of $3 per kilo more expensive than our weekend markets, the stone fruit on offer wasn’t RIPE!!

It also tends to be much larger than market-fruit, meaning it is more watery, and less flavoursome.

Now, when stone fruit is the absolute best season, and cannot be substituted, the last thing you want to be eating is gigantic sour apricots at $7.99 per kilo… Let alone crunchy peaches.

Seriously, W.T.F?

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Butter alert

February 9, 2009

Blocks of delicious and dangerous dairy fat: Kilbirnie Pak’n’Save has Anchor for $2.98 500g. You can freeze butter. Just wrap the block in something airtight to prevent flavour contamination.

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A bit of frugal bodging

February 8, 2009

So I barbequed a chicken (bought on special, naturally) yesterday. For some time, I’ve been thinking I should make a charcoal lighter.

A charcoal lighter is a metal cylinder with a grate and draught holes at the bottom and a handle. You pack it with charcoal (or briquettes), and light some crumpled paper underneath. The whole lot soon goes, and when the charcoal has a light ash covering you tip it into the barbeque. This has several advantages over building a fire directly in the barbeque grate:

  • no lighter fluid required
  • you can add more fuel for something long and slow-cooking without smoky flames from fresh fuel tainting the food
  • all the fuel ignites pretty evenly, leading to hotter/more even/less wasteful fire (boyscout method fires always have unburnt fuel on the outside when the middle is ready)

You can actually buy these things, and they go for $40 or $50.

Or you can do what I did, and take an old tin, and a coat hanger, and make one yourself.

I didn’t actually follow the instructions here, which I googled up after the event, but they’re pretty much what I did.

I think it took about 20 minutes all up, about half of which was hunting for my Leatherman. The result is not pretty, but it does the job just fine. I don’t think I could drive out to the hardware shop and buy one that quickly, never mind make one.

Add your own moral tale below.

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Frugal Face Furniture

February 3, 2009

One place we men have it over women is the price of our consumables. Most products the ordinary man needs are usually far cheaper than a comparable item for women. Razors are an example.

But just because we have it a little easier, it doesn’t mean we can’t pash the antelope a little further.

My own preference consists of the simple item you see to the right.

My first shaving brush was purchased some 15 years ago, and since that time I’ve had to buy one more, as depicted. It was bought somewhere for about $5 if I remember right.

Personally I’ve never ben one for straight-edge razors, so I can’t cut back on costs there (boom boom), but I realised long ago that buying shaving foam was a conspicuous waste of money. In fact, I’m not actually sure how much it costs these days…

Whatever it costs, I haven’t have to buy a single can in the last 15 years. Instead I’ve used good old, manly, soap.

At first I used ordinary bathroom soap, but it was… “a little rough” on the skin. So instead I went to the chemist and bought a slightly flash bar of soap for maybe $10? Who knows! It was 15 years ago and it lasted for about 3 before it gave up the ghost.

Since that time those handy liquid soaps have hit the market, and they’re pretty easy on the skin. A tiny squirt when lathering is usually enough to get a decent covering going, and then tada! Clean-shaved and happy. Who knows how long this lasts, but it’s sure as heck easier than constantly buying cream.

Even better, I haven’t consigned a thousand tin-cans to the tip.

And that’s frugal and green.