Virtually there - August 09
Times are hard. No tax cuts. No superannuation. No credit. But amid the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in our bleak, creditless outer darkness, there is a small ray of light. Internet budget tips!
First, you need to know the scope of your problem. Go to sorted.org.nz and use their budget calculator . If you discover you are rolling in excess cash, stop reading now and go and inject some much-needed dollars into the economy via the retail sector. But if you are spending more than you earn now is the time to stop.
Best place to start is in the kitchen. I must admit frugal food is not my forte. The closest I’ve ever come to meatloaf is a delicious but rather complex chicken galantine with truffles and the frugal-sounding carrot caviar created quite a peculiar taste sensation.
Sadly, I don’t understand leftovers at all. Wouldn’t it be quicker just to throw out the excess food immediately rather than set up a science experiment with it in the back of the fridge first? No, says LeftoverLovers.com. They are dedicated to providing us with “helpful money-saving recipes, cooking and planning ideas that result in cheaper, quicker, easier, tasty meals”. I’m depressed already.
I think a better way to save in the kitchen would be to remodel. The time has come to get a new energy-efficient fridge and dishwasher, and induction cooktops are not only hip but so much cheaper to run (download Westinghouse’s Future-proof Kitchens brochure here for all the facts).You could replace your bulbs with LED fixtures while you’re at it – very energy-efficient. By far the best energy-saving cooking tip is from BakingBites.com. Car-baked chocolate chip cookies: all you need is a sunny day, a hot dashboard and you can really wow the neighbours.
If this whole budgeting thing is really new to you, Dumb Little Man has 30 Easy Ways to Save Money (and No, You Are Not Doing Them All!). I think that speaks for itself. Leaving Excess wants you to make your own home cleaners. One Easy Thing suggests rinsing, drying and reusing plastic sandwich bags. The situation is clearly getting desperate.
Regardless, I prefer the Budget Fashionista’s tips for online designer discount shopping. Failing that, you can always consider moving home with your parents (quickly, before your kids move home to be with you). Warning: if you are considering this, read the Times Online article in which a 52-year-old man moves home to save money.
How did we get into this state anyway? I don’t blame my personal inability to live within my means of course – I blame Chrysler and the US sub-prime mortgage market. The short and simple story of their role in the birth of the credit crisis is brilliantly illustrated here. Watch this and then impress your friends at dinner parties with your understanding of the situation.
I also blame the New Zealand Electricity industry and its dodgy pricing model. New Zealand power is clean and cheap to make, but I still spend more than the GDP of a small Third World country on heating my home. If that seems confusing, wait till you compare your personal $/kWh charge to the wholesale rate at which the retail power companies actually buy the stuff. You can see the regional average price at electricityinfo.co.nz. I don’t know what the price will be when you look, but it was 0.2c/kWh when I was writing this. At least being outraged is still free.