Archive for March, 2009


Cheap books

March 30, 2009

So, although the really frugal thing to do is go to the library, sometimes I want to actually own a book. (Then I can drop it in the bath or scribble on it with a clean conscience).


  1. second hand (good for classics, foreign language grammars and dictionaries);
  2. wait for sales at bookshops;
  3. buy online.

I am reluctant to buy online, because you miss the opportunity to stumble on goodies, and I prefer to wander around Unity, or Parsons, or Dymocks, or even Borders. But sometimes you need something they don’t carry, or the discount is too substantial to ignore.

This is particularly true for technical books.

Usually I just check Fishpond or Amazon, but delivery charges are a killer, so I try and pool with a friend, or arrange for travelling friends to bring orders back from a US address.

A few weeks ago I discovered the Book Depository, which has some very good prices. It also has free delivery!

The Book Depository also has given me an ethical dilemma. I ordered a book. They reversed the charges, and I assumed it was out of stock. But then the book arrived anyway! Owing to exchange rate movements, I actually made a couple of bucks too. I have written to them, telling them of the problem, and asking them to charge me again, but haven’t heard back. In the meanwhile, I’m keeping the book…

I wouldn’t count on any freebies, but I have a couple of colleagues who order from the Book Depository regularly and rate them.

Where do you get your books?


Dark mutterings about chocolate

March 28, 2009

I buy a kingsize block of 70% cocoa chocolate regularly. I have noticed that Pak’n’Save regularly swaps about which chocolate line is on special — some weeks all Whittakers blocks are $2.98, some weeks all Cadbury’s are $2.98.

Today I noticed that the Cadbury’s 70% Old Gold bars, and all their other “premium” high cocoa bars, are only 220g, not 250g like their less chocolatey brethren. Whereas all the Whittakers bars, irrespective of cocoa content, are 250g. So even at $3.15, the current Whittakers price, Whittakers Dark Ghana is a better buy (per gram) than Cadbury Old Gold.

Moral: always check the unit cost. And to check the unit cost, assess the unit you’re measuring — in this case, weight of chocolate bar. Not all “king size” blocks are equal.


And we’re back with a quick pointer to a free goodie

March 26, 2009

Sorry folks: things happen, and then more things happen, and then you realise you left your blog on the bus on the way home from the pub.

But we’re back, filled with vim and vigour*.

Anyway, heads up: free CFL light bulbs at the Wellington Public Library until Saturday!

The only thing better than a free thing is a free thing that saves you money. Go get one.

*this is a lie. I have a cold and I’m actually filled with viruses. And I think Che’s baby got all his vim and vigour. Whatever.


Great breakdown of Powershop’s electricity deal

March 1, 2009

Powershop are offering a new model for electricity supply that may or may not save you money.

Over at half-pie, Alan has worked through the details brilliantly.

Right now, Powershop has a Wellington-area standard price of 18.18 cents per unit for a household metered like mine. One’s first instinct might be to multiply this price – it’s all-inclusive of line charge and GST – by the last two years’ unit consumption to get a figure ($3,590) to compare to that $4,560 above. And thus decide that Powershop is going to save us 21% on our power bills.

Not so fast…

Read the whole thing.