Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


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.


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.


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.


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.


Cheese alert, and a storage question

February 2, 2009

Is the price of cheese still a big issue?

If so, I see that New World has 1kg blocks for $9.

Dear readers, can you stockpile cheese? Will it freeze ok? Answers, please.


Carnivore alert

January 25, 2009

I see that Moore Wilson Fresh has brisket at $7.95 kg again. Just the thing for stewing and freezing in meal sized portions.

Eggy extra: in Variety, I see they have trays of 20 free range eggs at $7.20 ex GST, which works out at $4.86 for a dozen inc GST. We’d go through that in a week and a half, so it’s totally worth it, or you could split a tray between households.


Australasian wine glut: an opportunity for the frugal tippler?

January 25, 2009

It seems that the good stuff (and indeed the bad stuff) is cheaper than it has been for some time.

Massive grape harvests on both sides of the Tasman last year, the prospect of equally big harvests this year, and a softening of international demand due to the weakening world economy mean winemakers are having to slash prices to clear stock.
Simon Templeton, the wine buyer for liquor chain The Mill Liquorsave, said the deals the company was being offered were “the sharpest in history”.

He estimated the average price the chain was paying for wine was down by about a third on a year ago.

A typical Marlborough sauvignon blanc which would have been a good special last year at $9.99 was selling for $6.99 this year through the company’s internet wine store vineonline.


I suppose a really frugal person wouldn’t drink at all, but I find my quality of life is improved by modest consumption to a wholly justifiable degree. As a matter of interest, where do you heavy drinkers go for the best price/quality ratio?