We have Moved!

Undertendollars is now THE THRIFTY ISSUE.

Website: http://www.thethriftyissue.com.au

If you are an email subscriber, I will manually enter your details into the new website.  If you receive an email asking you to confirm your address, please approve!

Look forward to seeing you over there!

Logo_new - Regular size


Introducing our New Name!

Firstly, I would like to thank all the fans of Undertendollars … both the newbies, and the oldies.  Thank you all very much for your support.  We’ve all had heaps of fun here at UTD and it’s only going to get better!

With a new name, comes new ideas and new opportunities.  Your old friends will stay, including Worthy Wine, Tight Ass Tips, Meal Planners, Recipes, Craft Ideas, stories, tips and ideas.  However, now … there are opportunities to present to you so much more!

So without any further ado, I would like to introduce to you the new name for Undertendollars being THE THRIFTY ISSUE …

Logo_new - Regular sizeThe Thrifty Issue is a place to visit for stylish, funky and fun ideas on saving time, money and stress.  A place to meet and greet, to share and explore. 

If you want to participate in The Thrifty Issue with a guest blog of your own, feel free!  There will be a few new segments as well, so watch this space!  The transition will take place over the next week or so.

Just enjoy the ride, take in the new look, and for me it’s business as usual ~ bringing the fun to you!

Love Alison x

Insomnia and Nightmares

It was bound to happen.  Enter one little change in my life, and I’m cruising along during the day as happy as ever … go to sleep at a reasonable bedtime … then BOOM! I’m awake at 1:00am with the mind and body raring to go!

The change I’m referring to is with Undertendollars and unexpectedly having to change the name.  I received the Registration of Business Name yesterday, and am very excited!  I can’t wait to share it with you.

There is so much going on in my head right now, the brain has obviously decided there is no time for sleep!

Mind you, I wasn’t exactly sleeping peacefully.  Nightmares about people chasing me on motorbikes while I’m driving around in my car filled with suitcases that have exploded.  The contents containing kids clothes and toys have now filled the car and I’m madly putting them in the boot so people don’t see them in the car while it’s parked and are tempted to break in.  OMG … did I just share that with you!?

Speaking of nightmares.  My parents taught me the best trick ever, and it’s a great one for both adults and kids.  I’m so surprised that more people don’t know about it.  It’s as simple as turning the pillow over to the other side.  Explain to your kids … when you turn it over, the nightmares go over with it.  They are trapped underneath and won’t come back.  The new side of the pillow is nice, cool and refreshing and has lots of lovely dreams about butterflies and beaches.  A great tip for both kids and adults!

This trick did not help me stop the brain from going into overload however.  Everything seems so exaggerated at night time.  Lying there in the dark with the same thoughts going around and around.  The only insomnia remedy that works for me is to work through my thoughts and write them down.  Then go back to bed.

The other thing I try to do is prevent insomnia.  That means:

  • going to bed at a reasonable hour
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • sleeping in a cool and comfortable bed
  • avoiding the computer or technology for at least 30 minutes before sleep, and
  • no napping during the day (I only apply this last rule during the days I’m suffering from insomnia!).

There are lots of handy tips for helping with insomnia once it’s set in, but these have never worked for me.  Some include:

  • drinking a warm cup of milk or chamomile tea
  • doing a quiet activity with dim lighting for 30 minutes then going back to bed
  • deep breathing (yoga style)
  • muscle relaxing (I learnt this one in Drama class – tighten every muscle in your body, then slowly release each muscle, one at a time, starting from your toes)
  • fool around
  • gentle yoga stretches and going back to bed

Hopefully one of these tips would help for you.

At least I know my insomnia is temporary.  Sometimes it can last a couple of days, at which time I become a delirious maniac!  Hopefully that won’t happen this week!

Do you suffer from insomnia or nightmares?  What works for you?

If you liked this page, perhaps you would also like
Techniques to De-Stress

 Don’t forget to check out the Undertendollars Facebook
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Goodbye Undertendollars! Hello …

Logo SplitThe draft blog I wrote on this topic only yesterday had a completely different feel.  I had started it with “Oh, I could just cry”, however now I’m feeling positive and rearing to go!

I am so proud of Undertendollars.  I am proud of the Undertendollars name, the logo, the website and facebook page, the blogs written by myself and by friends who have contributed to Undertendollars and most of all, the friends I have met through Undertendollars.

Unfortunately, due to my naivety and ignorance in this world of URLs and domains, I’ve found myself in a position where I need to either close or rebrand Undertendollars.  This is due to my lack of research and experience, lack of foresight and also a lack of confidence when initially creating Undertendollars.

In such a short time, I’ve become really passionate about Undertendollars and have decided to upgrade the website, and in doing so have found that I am unable to obtain my domain name of choice.  Therefore, I’ve decided to re-name Undertendollars instead.

This initial realisation was really disappointing to me.  {Hello Comfort Eating: my husband has found the remnants of the chocolate block, but has not yet seen the disappearing chips}.  But I now have a new name in mind and am very excited!  This time I’m going to do my research first before sharing with you!

So that’s the story to date.  Once the New Name is confirmed, the transition should be very smooth and you won’t feel a thing!  I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions on what you would like to see from the upgraded website and facebook page, and I will certainly keep you updated on proceedings as we go!

Love Alison x





How to Turn Your Clutter into Cold Hard Cash!

Written by Nikki Morgan, 21 May 2013

We all have it, household junk that we will never need or use again, filling up our drawers, cupboards and even garages. While some of this is truly junk that needs to go in the bin, lot’s of things lurking around our home can be converted into cash….as the saying goes “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”.

De-cluttering is a fun and worthwhile exercise that we should all undertake once a year. I have a rule, if I have not used an item in the last 12 months, then I will probably never use it, so it is time to move the junk on!

We love to hang on to things ‘just in case’ we need them. The reality is we will often buy things we really don’t need, or will be given gifts that are not really to our taste, so we hide them away. Well get out all those ‘things’ lurking in the cupboard and make some cash.

Start in one drawer, and then move on to the next. Don’t try and do it all in one day, as sometimes that task is just to momentous and you will lose interest. Start small and keep building the collection of items to sell. If things are rubbish, then toss them. If they are still in decent condition, you can donate them or use some of the following suggestions to find buyers for all this loot.

GARAGE SALE – This is the quickest way to make cash from your unwanted goods. Hosting a successful garage sale only takes a little bit of effort and requires you not placing unrealistic expectations on how much you want to receive for your items. Make sure you place an ad in your main newspaper, the small investment will be returned with lot’s of shoppers. Just putting up signs at the end of your street will not bring enough visitors. Make sure you present your wares in a neat fashion. Use tables if possible, hang clothes, and anything that is going on the floor should be on blankets or sheets. Price everything and then be prepared to bargain.

WEEKEND MARKETS – Have become a mecca for bargain hunters and sellers alike. For a small fee you will be allotted a car park size space for you to display your wares. The same rules of presentation apply at markets. Be prepared for an early start, and by noon you can be on your way home with cash jingling in your pocket. Whatever does not sell can be donated as many markets have donation bins near-by for that purpose. Try and put your items in the bins provided and not just on the ground in front of them, or more than likely your items will be on another persons market table next week.

EBAY – Setting up an account with Ebay is free, and non-commercial sellers can place up to 30 advertisements at no cost per month. They often have special weekends where you can list up to 100 items free of charge. You will only pay fee’s if you sell your item. You will also need a Paypal account, again free to set up. It makes financial transactions for buyers and sellers safe and convenient. Ebay is great for small items that don’t attract high postage charges. Unless your larger items are of high value that could get lot’s of bidders trying to win it, keep Ebay for the smaller and lighter items. Good quality pictures is one of the tricks to successful selling on Ebay. If the picture grabs the attention of buyers you have a much better chance of making good money.

GUMTREE – Is a completely free service that connects your items with buyers in your area. You don’t pay fees if you make a sale. As your buyers are local and will be coming to you, this is the best way to sell off large, bulky items that would attract very high postage fees. Things like garden equipment, unused sporting goods, artwork and furniture are great contenders for this sight. Setting up an account is quick and free.

FACEBOOK – Is growing in popularity as a way to sell off unwanted items, again with no cost to you. A quick search will find a host of ‘Garage Sale’ pages that cover your local area. There are 4 for my local area, and I have used this method to clear unwanted items. Most of these pages will require you to set up an album with your photo’s and descriptions of them items, and everyday you can add a small comment to your listings to bump them to the top of the page until it is sold.

WEEKEND SHOPPER – Most newspapers have a shopping section in their Saturday additions. You used to have to pay to list your items, but competition from other selling sources, saw the listing fee’s abandoned for items that cost less that $500.00. Place your ad by Wednesday night for inclusion in that Saturday’s addition. You just need to make sure you are home on Saturday in case you get calls from prospective customers who would like to view and purchase from you.

So get cleaning and clearing out and within a short space of time you
will see a pile of cash growing in front of you!

What is your favourite way of turning household junk into cash?

Garage Sale

Nikki Morgan is a Natural Therapist, Author, Bargain Queen, mum to two gorgeous teens and can often be found with a glass of Sav Blanc in hand, blogging away at her little piece of cyber-space Wonderfully Women.com

This post has been shared with Essentially Jess for “I Blog on Tuesday” IBOT

Easy Apps for the Home

As published on Little Hero Hosting, Tue 14 May 2013
Written by Alison Parks

If you know me well, you will be shocked that I am writing an article on technology, let Samsung Phonealone apps.  Here is a picture of the mobile phone that I have carried around until 6 months ago.  I loved this phone.  It didn’t have internet access, in fact, it couldn’t even take a photo.  But it fit easily into any pocket or mini purse and I could make and receive phone calls.  That’s all you need from a phone, right?

I admit I’m a slow learner.  So I’m going to give you the Most Useful and Easy Apps for the Home from my perspective.  If you search the internet, there are thousands of websites with experts telling you this and that about apps, and you need a technology dictionary to help read most of them.

I’m going to show you the easiest, cheapest and most useful apps that I have found and am currently using around the home.  If I’m using them, they must be easy to use!

As I own an android phone and tablet, my recommendations will be android based, however I have also provided an iphone option.


In Australia, we don’t seem to have a one-stop-shop app for all the supermarkets.  The choice is for you to pick from the main supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths, Aldi), or simply download a Shopping List app and go from there.

Of the major supermarket app selections, my pick is the Woolworths app, because you can also order online, it’s not just a shopping list like the others.  You can scan your item and either store it in a shopping list and/or order online and have it delivered to your door … all from your mobile phone.

Select the link below for your preferred option.

Android: Coles, Woolworths, Aldi
iPhone: Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, Shopping List


I have a serious excel spreadsheet that monitors our budget.  In my pre-smartphone days I would take cash out each pay day for my ‘entertainment’ money, which was the best way for me to keep track of my casual spending.

These days however, I am able to eftpos whatever I like without fear of going over my allocated spend with the TrackMySpend app.

While you’re standing in the checkout line, just enter the amount of spend and it will calculate how much you have left, and how many days you have left until your next top up (i.e. pay day).  You can save your favourites (i.e. morning coffee) and with just a click of a button your spending budget will be updated.

Android: TrackMySpend [Free]
iPhone: TrackMySpend [Free]


How often do you ask “Does this dress look nice?”, and hear in return “yes, of course” or “yes, dear”?  Wouldn’t it be great to get some honest and reliable feedback on what you’re wearing for your hot date or catch up with old friends.  What Should I Wear.com.au is the best app for this purpose!  When you’re out shopping, you can refer to what you actually have in your closet and compliment your wardrobe, rather than double up on what you already have – no more impulse buys!  It’s very addictive … you can give or get advice and also have lots of fashion questions answered by experts.

Android: WhatShouldIWear.com.au [Free
iPhone: WhatShouldIWear.com.au [Free]

Housework / Chores

This has been referred to me by friends with older kids.  What better way to share the chores with the kids, than via their smartphone!  iRewardChart allows you to select from built-in chores or create your own, delegate and accumulate rewards.  Kids love novelty, and using their phones … iRewardChart is a great concept!  You can always use it as an adult too … no reason why adults can’t get rewards for doing the chores!

Android: iRewardChart [$4.00]
iPhone: iRewardChart [$3.99]

A simple chore app is the Chore Checklist which has pre-set basic chores to keep your household running smooth, crisp and clean.  You can add or delete chores, and set reminders to ensure none are forgotten.  It’s a great motivator and organiser.

Android: Chore Checklist [Free]

Home Renovating

We have just finished renovating our home, and I am kicking myself for not having a smartphone years ago.  There are apps which allow you to upload a photo of your room, and virtually paint it with the colours of your choice.  I feel a new “feature wall” coming on!

Dulux have a great iPhone app available, click here.

Not a great recommendation, but the best solution I can find for the Australian Android users is the BEHR app to get a good idea on how your room is going to look, and then use the Dulux Colour Schemer app (which doesn’t allow photos of your room) to try and match the colour so you can buy the right product here in Oz.

Android: ColourSmart by BEHR
iPhone: Dulux Colour Schemer

Diet and Exercise

I religiously follow the Calorie King website to monitor my dietary intake and exercise program, and don’t you know it … they have an app too!  Set your weight goal, and it will keep track of the calories, fats, carbs, protein etc in all the foods you eat and will also calculate how many calories you burn through exercise. This one I can’t use as it’s only available for the iPhone owners.  The Calorie Counter – My Fitness Pal has been recommended to me for Android users for this article … so let me know what your thoughts are on it.

Android: Calorie Counter – My Fitness Pal
iPhone: Calorie King or Calorie Counter – My Fitness Pal


Cooking in the home is a family affair at our place.  The kitchen is the centre of our home and it’s where all the important things happen.  I am not the world’s best cook, and I will take any help where given!  I’ve recently downloaded an easy to follow recipe app, Epicurious which has over 30,000 recipes to inspire me with last minute decisions during the week or long time planning with dinner parties.  Now this is an easy, essential app to have in your home.

Android: Epicurious
iPhone: Taste or Epicurious

Do you know what I like most about Apps?  Is that App is in Happy, and that’s how I feel when finding technology that can help me around the home!

Don’t forget to check out Little Hero Hosting for all your web hosting needs (and more!) … big thanks to them for posting our article.

Is your “Weakness” Breaking Your Budget?

Shopping WeaknessI’ve just asked my husband what he thinks our weakness is and he says take-away food and alcohol.  I agree.

They are the things likely to send our budget off the rails.

I then asked whether he is willing to give up takeaway and alcohol for one year to save money? … “No!  Absolutely not.  No way”, he says!

I agree that everything has a price.  So I start asking him … would you give them up for an overseas holiday? or an integrated beer keg? (his dream)

He starts getting cranky with me … I’m asking these questions while the football is on!

The concept of saving and sacrifice is something I am familiar with.  When your budget is tight, it’s unlikely you are going to splurge on a luxury item like fancy designer boots, a weekend mini-break with room service, a 5 star silver service dinner with limo service or my husbands dream … an integrated beer keg system (urgh)!  Who can justify things like that when you’re struggling to pay a mortgage/rent, buy groceries and clothe the family!

The only way I could justify buying my dream item, is to specifically set it as a goal and either work harder to earn extra money for it, sell things for it, or save for it.

However, when you feel like there is nothing left to put aside … what do you do?

First of all, make it visual.  Put together a scrapbook or folder with a collage of photos, ideas and notes of your dream item.  If it’s something as simple as a pair of boots, then simply post photos of your dream boots in your wardrobe, on the fridge, on your desk at work.  These photos and scrapbooks are to serve as reminders and inspiration to stick with your plan.

The Plan.  Work out how you’re going to achieve your dream.  Will it be to earn extra money, sell items, save, all of the above, or something else!?  Whatever it is … make it debt free.  Don’t fall into the trap of borrowing or loaning money for a non-essential luxury item.

To achieve something I never thought I’d have … I could give up takeaway and alcohol.  Not easily though.  I’m very addicted to my weekly treats, but I could certainly be persuaded to give them up for a one off luxury that I wouldn’t even dream of getting normally.  Particularly when I do a chart (like the one below) and work out how much money I could have after just one year.

How much do you spend on your treats?

Let’s see how much money you could potentially save … here are some examples.  Maybe you could save even more!


Per Week / Per Person

Per Year

Coffee $17.50 $910
Magazines $6.95 $361.40
Take-away Food $20.00 $1040
Gambling $5.00 $260
Cigarettes $30.00 $1560
Alcohol $15.00 $780

** when doing your calculation – remember to calculate how much you spend per couple, or per family

Now $1000 may not seem a lot of money to put aside to give up your favourite treat.  But just think how proud you’ll feel when you can buy that one luxury item that you never thought you’d own.  After just one year!  I’m thinking “this time next year, I could have a Hot Red KitchenAid”.  Yeh, big thrills you say … but at the moment, there is no way I could afford one.  So what have I really got to lose?

Tracking.  Together with your scrapbook and photos for inspiration, you need to track your savings.  Every pay day, or end of month, you will get a thrill to see how much money you’ve put aside, and you will be one month closer to your goal.  Make your “tracking” visual again by putting a copy on the fridge or next to your scrapbook to serve as a reminder and inspiration.  Click here for our free “Achieve Your Goals” printable.

Fail.  If you fall by the wayside and have a terrible month with your savings, then don’t stress yourself, and most importantly, do not quit!  We all have those moments when life takes us by surprise and we have a setback with our plans.  Just try not to have it happen too often, and get back on that horse and keep going!

Spend and enjoy!  Before you know it, twelve months have flown by and you have cash to flash!  Congratulate yourself, spend up and enjoy the thrill of having achieved your goal.  Then you can sit down and work out whether you want to go back to your old habits, or whether you want to go through the exercise again and enjoy another treat the following year!

Tell me … what is your weakness … and what is it worth to you?

If you liked this page, perhaps you would also like
Breaking Habits

Don’t forget to check out the Undertendollars Facebook
page and SHARE with your friends

How to Buy Wine (and more!) for Undertendollars

Written by Zoe Gill, 17 May 2013.

There is nothing shameful about saving money on wine. There, I said it.

Until I stumbled across this Undertendollars blog, I felt lonely, hiding in the shadows of my local Dan Murphy’s quietly rushing to the counter after choosing my said bottle and handing over my $10.00 note as I see $9.99 flash on the screen.

No not really, but seriously… I have bills to pay and wine to drink.

I want to be merry.

I want quality, not crap. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So over these cheaper, mortgage paying drinking years, I have developed a knack for finding good, decent bottles of plonk that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.  Even more importantly… they won’t come out of a cask and will easily impress your friends, family and guests.  For my  first inaugural worthy wine post, here at Undertendollars, we thought it might be useful to share my top ten hints, tips and pointers about drinking and enjoying that cheaper bottle of plonk that I have developed over the years.

red wine

Tip 1: Ask!

In larger, chain bottle shops, they have people working there, who are quiet wine connoisseurs or have previously worked in all sides of the wine/alcohol industry, from restaurants, sales to manufacturing.  I love striking up a conversation with the wine buffs at my local and as a blogger, I ask them about what wine they would drink undertendollars.  They usually love to talk about something they are passionate about… So what are you waiting for… Start the conversation!

Tip 2: Look for Specials

It would be amiss of me not to mention this as I am known for being a complete cheapskate bargain hunter… There are many wines that are either cheaper for a short time, cheaper in two’s, six or a dozen.  Who doesn’t want a $20 bottle of wine at a $10 price?

However, I have had many of my favourite  $10 wines that have been better than $20 ones due to age, maturity and all sorts of other grown up wine drinking reasons so buyer beware.  Many of the $10 wines have been mass produced so they are drinkable straightaway for a mass market.

Also, if you can afford too, it might be more realistic to also buy your $10 wine in bulk, and you can make substantial savings of up to 20%.

Tip 3: Look at the bottom of your docket

I looked at a shopper docket the other day and I saw a two for one deal at my local, chain owned bottle shop.  Who doesn’t like something for nothing?

Tip 4: Nitrogen isn’t your friend

When wine is produced, sometimes producers pump nitrogen into the top of the bottle to settle the contents, there are all sorts of reasons for this.  Nitrogen happens.  The main reason is that nitrogen is more predictable than oxygen as well as being safer (they also use it in aeroplane tyres!).  What you need to do to get rid of the nitrogen is this;

  1. Take your bottle of undertendollar wine;
  2. Take half a mouthful out of the top of the bottle (don’t drink this amount, we want to get rid of it for a reason) but it’s your wine, do what you like!
  3. Place your thumb in the top of the bottle;
  4. Shake the bottle of wine 4 – 5 times.

This tip was shared with me, from my favourite, most gorgeous, quiet wine connoisseur Mr. Magoo (yes that is his nickname) from my local. Thanks Mr. Magoo!

Tip 5: Red wine needs to take a breath and white wine can benefit too

Now Mr. Magoo and I don’t share our love for this next tip, but I do it anyway because that’s how I roll.

I believe red wines need to breathe and decanters are old school and way cool.  I absolutely love them and their function and I truly believe that red wine tastes better after being decanted for .5 – 1 hours before drinking.  A decent decanter (look for a smaller neck and wide base) will set you back around $10 – 15, and you don’t need anything but glass, they are also beautiful to serve out of to impress guests.  Look for decanters in outlet stores after Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day, this is when they were most easily found and cheaper.  My decanter was $15 and I always use it when guests come over or over comfy Friday Night takeaway.

Tip 6: White wine needs to be cold

In Spring/Summer, when I mostly drink white wine I  like to use a carafe. Remember carafes?  They were what your parents drank out of when they  took you to the local Italian Restaurant as a kid and had the ‘house wine’.  The reason carafes are great is wine gets cooler more quickly in them.  Keep your carafe in the freezer and pour your desired amount of wine into it, and then put it back in the fridge… You won’t regret it.

Another great tip (we do live in Australia), is waterless ice blocks… It is a bit of a tragedy I feel when your wine gets ruined by water, because you are desperate for a cold alcoholic drink in Summer.  Again, outlet shopping, you can pick up waterless ice cubes/carafes for undertendollars and you will use them for years.

Tip 7: Cheaper champagne/sparkling needs juice… Don’t argue with me. It does.

This is controversial I know, but if you are going to drink undertendollars sparkling wine (I take the challenge to find a sparkling for you that won’t break the budget), add fruit juice. Yes I said it. Just do it.  Champagne/Sparklings are usually drunk before meals as an apéritif (before the meal)  and the reason champagne cocktails were invented was, people knew how easy it was to get tizzy, so they added fructose (there is a science to it) to help your body with the alcohol content.  So, if you are going to drink a cheaper sparkling, do it wisely and add a juice such as guava, dry it out with grapefruit, or really sweeten it with rosellas or berries.

Also, a hint.  If you do drink undertendollars wine the night before, and feel less than awesome, have a large fruit juice the next day upon rising.  Fructose (Fruit Sugar) has been proven to rev up alcohol metabolism in your system.  Now you know why you feel better after that glass of orange juice with your vegemite toast the next day!

Tip 8: You only need one ‘go to’ good undertendollar wine.. or maybe two!

This is my best tip ever.  You only need one good red and one good white wine.  If you like it, stick with it.   Luckily here at Undertendollars, we are taking the hangovers hard work out of it for you.  We hope we find something you are going to love as much as we do.

Tip 9: Don’t be afraid to drink foreign wine

Honestly, places like Spain and France got their good wine reputations for a reason.  There is a neglected spot in many bottle shops where dust settles over the foreign section that I love to go.  Maybe it is my love of travelling, people and places, but I love asking about the wine in these sections and whether I can find something awesome that may have been hidden before.  Sure, there is no doubt, we have fantastic wine in Australia, and New Zealand but there is also lovely stuff elsewhere.  Over the coming weeks I am going to showcase two foreign wines that I love and cannot wait to share these with you. Get worldly and go for it!

Tip 10: Share the love

If you find a good wine, tell others.  No matter how much it costs.  There is nothing better I think, then sitting down with a partner, or friend or two and chatting about wines you love.  Wine producers deserve recognition and praise for what they do, after all it is a craft.  If you have a good experience, you must share it. Hey, and why don’t you even share it with us here, we’d love to hear from you at undertendollars@hotmail.com.

I hope you find these ten top tips useful, have you got some more? Drop us an email or let us know on facebook!

Cheers my dears, until next time… drink good plonk,

Zoe xxx


If you liked this page, make sure you check all the
Wines tested for Undertendollars on the Worthy Wine page and don’t forget to share with your friends

Keep Warm this Winter without the Heater

Has winter come on us early this year?  Balmy Brisbane is anything but balmy today.  I’m loathe to turn on the heater until absolutely necessary, so I’ve put together a list of things to do to keep us warm for Undertendollars.

Click here for printable list to stick on your fridge as a reminder.

Let’s have a look at some ways to keep warm before turning on the heater.

Windows and Doors

  • Head to the local hardware store and ask for the products that can help seal your windows and doors.  Weather strips are easy to install, and inexpensive.  Grab some gap filler for the cracks in your walls too.
  • If you can’t afford to install weather strips, simply place a towel in front of the draughty window or door.
  • Check the outside temperature … if it’s warmer, open your doors and windows … if it’s colder, then shut them tight!
  • Close your indoor doors to un-used rooms.  This will give you another barrier from the outdoors.
  • The thicker your curtains, the more insulation you have.  If the sun is streaming outside, open the curtains and let it in … then close them once it’s gone.

Lounge roomFlooring

  • Put down rugs and/or carpets.  Warmer on your feet than floorboards and provide another layer of protection from the cold temperatures underneath.


  • If you can afford it, insulate the ceiling space with batts.  It only takes a weekend, and if you have a handy hubby, you can DIY.
  • Put the ceiling fans on reverse.  Instead of the warm air rising to the ceiling, the fan will circulate it around the room more evenly.

Get in the Kitchen

  • Cook.  Stews, roasts, casseroles, soups.  Get out all your oven recipes and do a batch of dinners.  To save on electricity, try cooking as many meals as you can in one sitting.
  • Leave the oven door open when you’ve finished cooking to continue warming your kitchen (don’t do this if you have children – or do it after they’ve gone to bed)
  • Drink warm beverages … hot chocolate, tea, coffee, warm milk or even warm water with some lemon to get some warmth into those bones.
  • When you boil the jug, fill a hot water bottle at the same time.
  • When you microwave food, put the heat pad in as well.


  • Dress warmly.  Beanies, scarves, gloves, slippers.  Layers and layers and more layers.  If one pair of socks isn’t enough, put on another pair!
  • Wear a singlet or long sleeved thermal top 24/7.
  • Sleep with your socks on.

Home Decor

  • Gather all your blankets and leave them in convenient locations.  Layer them over your armchairs or lounges, or place them in a basket in the corner of the lounge.  Offer them to guests and wash regularly.
  • Make sure some of those extra blankets are placed at the end of your bed too.
  • Flannelette sheets and pillow cases are so much nicer than chilly cotton ones!
  • If you are going to turn on the heater … make sure heat vents, radiators and heaters are free of obstructions … otherwise that lovely warmth won’t reach you.


  • Exercise.  Do laps around the house, situps, pushups, play “row row row your boat” with the kids, go for a run/walk … whatever you can think of!
  • Housework.  Get energetic with it and work up a sweat … with a bonus, the house is clean too!
  • Go out.  Hit the shops, library, gym, indoor heated pool, friends house … wherever you know the heat is on!

Walking in winterGet Friendly

  • Cuddle.  Pets, husbands, kids … anything with some warmth!
  • Share your space with others.  The more bodies in one room, the more heat is generated.
  • If you have kids, create an indoor cubby house or tent … all those little bodies in one closed space would be very cosy and warm … get in and join them!

Don’t forget to click HERE for the printable list to stick on your fridge as a reminder.  Our electricity bill triples in winter … so my goal this year is to bring it right back down!  Good luck staying warm everybody!

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Tricks to Taking Photos with Your Phone

When you’re living on a budget, chances are you don’t have many opportunities to get professional photos done.  It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be snap happy … particularly when most people have cameras on their phones.

I am not an expert photographer, so I have taken the liberty of researching dozens and dozens of articles and websites and have summarised what everyone is trying to share with us when taking photos with your phone.  These are tips for the everyday person who is in a rush and doesn’t have time to mess around with complicated settings!  Everybody can follow these simple photo suggestions, irrespective of what type of camera you have.

  • Set your camera to the highest picture quality and resolution.  Ted’s Cameras have an easy to follow guide on Image Size and Resolution.
  • Use natural light – shade, not direct sun.  A Beautiful Mess shows us 5 Tips for Great Outdoor Photos.  This is a lovely website, with lots of examples for the everyday user.
Source: A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

  • Find a simple, complementary background.  Simple doesn’t mean plain, it just means “not conflicting”.  A floral dress on your girlfriend could get lost if she’s standing in front of a busy garden.
  • Get close … avoid cropping later.  Steve Berardi at the Photo Naturalist explains why with Three Reasons to Avoid Relying on the Crop Tool.
Source: Photonaturalist

Source: Photonaturalist.net

  • Try a mix of serious and funny photos

DIY Photos funny

  • Props can come in handy (glasses, hats, scarves, teddies, books, etc.)
  • Have fun and don’t spend too much time playing with the camera … take the photo before you miss the opportunity!

If you find you still want to play around with your photos and go the extra mile, then Apps will save the day!

Popular Phone Apps

Because this article is about simplicity, I’m going to pick only two popular phone apps.  These appear to be the most popular and user friendly ones on the market.  Please feel free to comment below on other apps you find useful though.

Instagram.  Instagram uses a variety of different filters and lets you easily share the filtered photos to a variety of social networks and other sites.

Hipstamatic (iPhone only).  Hipstamatic lets you take photos using a variety of retro lenses, cameras, and filters.

Share and Enjoy

DIY Photos Wedding AlbumI love taking photos, and one day when I have a little more time, I’m going to spend some time with digital scrapbooking and finding different ways to display them around the home.  We placed our wedding photos in a printed book (many years ago before apps and camera phones), but have found the printed book fantastic for our kids and visitors to view without us having to worry about expensive prints being damaged.

We also have a wall of family snaps which is a great talking point for all our visitors, and the kids love talking about their friends on the wall.  Each photo frame was a bargain price of $10 … a great, budget way of decorating this room.

DIY Photos Wall Frames

So watch out for more pics from us while I practice all these new techniques!  Hope you enjoyed our brief article on taking pics with your phone … remember, keep it simple and enjoy the fun!

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