Monday, April 20, 2015

We Are Building Again!!

That's right - we are building again.

We have been in our house 21 months now - so much to catch up on, but I will have to do that at a later date.

We aren't moving - I think we will stay where we are for a long time, but there are some building works that we will be undertaking

A two bedroom granny flat for my father-in-law.  He moved out from England at the end of last year and is currently living with us.  Our block of land is just over 4,000m2, so we have plenty of room for him to build a granny flat to live in.

We will also be putting in a 15m lap pool and a 10.5m x 7.0m American barn shed.

We have been DA approved - which took just under two months.  The shed has been ordered and so has the pool.

I will come back and show you the pics of the granny flat and you can follow along this new journey.  Hopefully it wont be as long as the last one.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Its All About Negotiation

Yesterdays post got me thinking about negotiating for things.

A very strong memory from my childhood was my weekly trip with my family on a Thursday night to  Macquarie Shopping Centre.  It is on the North Shore of Sydney for those that do not live in Sydney.  Every week we would eat dinner out and our trip was not complete without dad visiting a store called 'Discount Inn'. They sold electrical and computer items.  One week it was a new toaster, the next week something for the computer.   I would walk around with Dad while he decided what he wanted and then he would walk to the counter.  This is the part when I used to cringe and hope the floor would swallow me up.   Dad would start to negotiate on price.  I couldnt understand why he was doing it.   I was so embarrassed and used to joke with friends that he would negotiate on his groceries if he could.  

Fast forward a few years and I have found myself doing the same thing.  OK, I am not as bad as my dad, but when I am making large purchases it is a must.

Take the fridge that we purchased.

It was listed at $2,499.00.  It was on sale at $1,899.00 as it was floor stock.  We were looking at the fridge and I asked the sales person - what was the best price he could do.  He explained it was floor stock already discounted.  He then went onto to say that we could purchase the replacement warranty and that was $275.00.  Delivery was an additional $75.00.  Total cost of this if we paid full price $2,249.00.    I said that we did not want to spend that much  and our budget was $2,000.  A bit of backwards and forwards banter and we got it for $2,000 with delivery and the extended warranty.  Total saving $249.00 - but an $849.00 saving if we had paid full retail with the warranty and delivery.

As we still had the TV's to purchase, we got further discounts.   We bought three 50"plasmas.  They were listed at $900.00 for two of them and $600.00 for the third one.  We ended up getting them for $2,180.00 including replacement warranty and a digital set top box thrown in for another one of our TV's for free. Again a decent saving.

So my rules are;

1. Don't be afraid to bargain. Your money is power whether you a paying cash, credit or interest free

2.  Be prepared to walk away.

3.  Check out other retailers - use the phone it will save you hundreds and it saves negotiating face-to-         face. I will give you an example.

My boss wanted a Westinghouse dishwasher.  The model he wanted was listed on the internet for $800.00 on one site, but then listed at $697 on another site.   I rung Winning Appliances and they said that they were the cheapest and they could do it for $679.00.  So I rung the Good Guys - one said that they were not making anything on that price and couldn't do anything cheaper.   So I rung another Good Guys store to be told that they could do it for $626.00.   Back to Winning Appliances to be told they would do it for $597.00 - how cheap is that!!!!!   I didn't have to go anywhere. Cost me a couple of phone calls and 20 mins of my time and saved $200.00 from the retail price.

5. The more you are spending, the more you can expect to get off the listed price.

6. Don't bargain in the supermarket.  It is just plain embarrassing.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Fridge

Yesterday we had a delivery of a new fridge.  New fridge you ask????  Why would you need a new fridge when you only just got one.

The last one, we took delivery of it on 12/07/13 - so just over two months ago.

When we first installed the fridge, as we knew it was going to be taken out again for tiling we did not connect the water.   As soon as the tiling was completed we connected the water.  The water worked, but the ice didn't.   We waited and waited but the ice didn't work.  We rung Bosch, but even with their instructions the ice didn't work.

We rung Bosch again and they sent someone out to repair it.  It turned out to be a faulty ice maker and the ice maker part would be replaced.  Then it dawned on us - replacement warranty.

Let me go back to the beginning and explain.

We purchased the above items - one fridge and three tv's from Domayne.  The fridge happened to be the display model and it was already discounted by $500.00.  The sales person when we asked about purchasing it said we could purchase a 'replacement warranty'. I have heard of an extended warranty, but not a replacement warranty.   We were told if anything goes wrong, and they mean ANYTHING, it will not be repaired, it will be replaced with the new model.  I was a little skeptical about the warranty, but it was not much, so we went for it.

Now knowing that we had a replacement warranty on the fridge we asked Bosch if it would be replaced.  They said that the replacement warranty did not kick in until after the normal manufacturers warranty.  This was not explained to us when we purchased the fridge, so we thought we had been a little jilted.

When the Bosch repair man called to say the parts had been delivered, I asked him about our replacement warranty. He asked why we were not using it, as our fridge would be replaced.   So I rung Domayne and Bosch had been telling fibs and it was indeed covered under the replacement warranty.

I called the warranty place and they advised that it could be repaired or they would replace it.  Replace please!!!  One of my main reasons for replacing was when it was delivered and we took off the energy sticker, there was a lovely dent. I didn't think I could complain as it was floor stock.

Fast forward a couple of weeks as the fridge was not in stock, but today I have taken delivery of a brand new fridge with a working ice maker and dent free!!!!

I am now a convert of this warranty.  We also purchased replacement warranties for the new TV's, so if anything goes wrong with them in the next 5 years, they will be replaced as well.

Have you ever used this type of warranty before????


Friday, September 20, 2013


I thought I would go into a bit of how I pay my bills.

When we bought our first house I estimated that our bills would be about $100.00 a week. Each week from Mat's pay I would put aside a $100.00 and when each bill came in I would pay the bill out of that money that had been put aside.

The problem that I had with doing it this way, I didn't have a clue how much our bills were and $100.00 was grossly under what it should be.

I then had a brain wave and I wrote down all our expected bills for the whole year.  Insurances, council rates, phones everything including the regos. Once I had everything tallied, including some estimates for electricity and water I divided this up into a weekly/fortnightly amount.  I used to divide it up weekly as Mat was paid weekly, but now I divide it up into a fortnightly amount as he is paid fortnightly.   If you are paid monthly, divide it up this way. Firstly I worked out that I needed to more than double the amount we were putting away.

When I first started doing it like this, I would have a schedule of bills that would come in and I would pay the amount on my list.  If it was the 15th August I could see on my list exactly who was being paid that day.   The problem with this, was some weeks the bills would be higher than others and if that fortnights bills were lower than my estimate, the remaining amount would be spent and then I would have to find additional money when the bills were higher another fortnight.  It still left the problem of big quarterly bills and when they came in, I would not have the money to pay it all.

Now my strategy is a little different.   I still have the list of bills and now our bills are $400.00 a week - shocking I know.  So I have $800.00 a fortnight that I pay out.  I no longer wait for a bill to arrive. I pay all my bills every fortnight.

For my electricity, I have estimated that I will have a $1,000 a quarter bill - please let it not be more than that.   So that works out at $4,000 per year or $150.00 per fortnight. Every fortnight I bpay $150.00 to the electricity company.    When the bills comes out at the end of the quarter, I should have no bill or a very small one.  

Same with our water, council rates etc.  I pay them all in small chunks every fortnight by bpay.  This way I know that when every bills comes in I will have nothing to pay, or maybe even be in credit.

Plus, another good thing about doing it this way - I used to dread the electricity bill coming in.  I would close my eyes and then peak a look, making sure that I was sitting down.  Now, it doesnt bother me opening the bill as I know I will have basically nothing to pay.  Plus it feels like a cheap bill.

How do you pay your bills????


Thursday, September 19, 2013


We are big electricity users - I wont deny it.  We guzzle that stuff like it is going out of fashion.  OK, we are not that bad, but every time I get an electricity bill it takes my breath away.

There was one good thing about living in the rental house and it being smaller than a shoe box - small electricity bills.  I think our first one was under $400.00 for the quarter.  That caused me to nearly run down the street yahooing.

I expect with the new house that our electricity bill will be about $1,000 a quarter. If it comes in under that, it will require a party. If it comes in after that, I think I will die of shock.

This week I have been ringing around trying to get energy prices.  My first call was to Energy Australia to find out my rates. Their computers were down and they couldnt help me.  Next try was to find out what would work for me.   The problem with iselect, you cannot do it over the internet and someone calls you back.   Someone called me back even though I didn't want them to and they offered me Momentum Energy.  I told them I would think about it and they have been hassling me repeatedly for the last two days.

Today  I went back to Energy Australia and asked what rates I was on.   Firstly I was told that I had a 'Standard all hours meter' and I only had one rate which was a peak rate of 27.39c/kw - 31.32c/kw.  I was shocked thinking we had one of the new 'smart meters' that did time billing, where you have a peak, shoulder and off peak rate.

A call to Rawson's electrician told me that we do have that smart meter and they gave me all necessary details and told me to speak to Ausgrid. I rung Ausgrid and my goodness are they helpful and it was worked out that we do have a smart meter, but when new connections are done they are automatically put on the 'standard all hours meter'

I was then put through to an Energy Australia person who said that I could opt to have my meter changed over to 'time of use' billing, but she needed to explain the rates first.  I was all into changing over to the 'time of use billing'until she gave me the rates.

Peak rate is 52.54c/kw  Peak time is from 2pm to 8pm
Shoulder is 21.856c/kw.  Shoulder time is from 8pm to 10pm and then 7am to 2pm and from 7am to 10pm on weekends and public holidays
Off Peak is 13.167c/kw Off Peak time is 10om until 7am

The daily fee you pay is 87.175c compared to the 78.10 cents with the other meter.

With those rates I nearly fell off my chair.  I think I am going to have to turn my kids into slaves and get them riding exercise bikes to make electricity - OK I am joking with that one.

The Energy Australia lady then advised that their rates did not includes discounts - Oooohhh I like the word discount.

With the one rate plan if I agreed to stay with Energy Australia for 2 years I would receive a discount of 12%. If I went with the time of use plan I would get a 15% discount if I agreed to a contract for the same period, basically bringing the rates down to the following

Peak for All Time Billing 24.10 - 27.56c/kw depending on how much I use.

For the Time of Use

Peak 44.659c/kw
Shoulder: 18.289c/kw
Off Peak: 11.19c/kw

Now my next thing is to work out how we use our electricity and when. I think that will determine what plan I am going to go for.

Have you looked at your electricity plans????

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Remember from this post I was a bit of a scab forager during the last junk day that we had and I found two great bits.

The first one

It now sits in my sons room. It makes a perfect bedside table - best part about it, it was FREE!!!!

The second score was the foot stool/ottoman. The original fabric was daggy, but it was in great condition

Re-covering upholstery is easy - and the difference is makes is unbelievable.  Rather than just show you the end product I thought I would show you some of the steps I took to recover it.

I bought 3 yards of fabric (yard works out at about 91cm) to re-cover the ottoman.  I allowed myself a bit extra in case I had any mishaps.  Thankfully I didn't and I have some left over.

I tipped the ottoman over, and there was a black piece of fabric covering all of the staples etc.  Once I unscrewed the feet, I ripped off the black fabric covering to reveal the guts of the ottoman.

Next to come off was the cover.  I wanted to keep the majority of it in-tact so that I could use the original cover as a template.  There were hundreds of staples holding the cover tight - so I would have been there all day trying to remove them all one-by-one, so I ended up cutting the cover as close to the staples as I could. Once I had cut the cover away from the wooden base, I carefully pulled off the cover as to not damage the foam

I pulled apart the original cover so that I could use it as a template to make the new cover.  Don't make things hard for yourself by measuring - just use what you already have.  It will save any mishaps as you know that the original cover fits!

The piping was the only thing that made it a little bit more difficult for me.  I don't have a piping foot for my sewing machine. It would have been easier with one. It would have been a very quick project if I had forgone the piping and just stayed with the fabric, but I wanted the contrast with the black piping.

The fabric that was originally on the ottoman was home-decorating weight - which in layman's terms it is thicker than normal fabric so it can stand up to a lot of use.  The fabric that I chose was regular quilting cotton, so a lot thinner than home-decorating fabric.  I made up a second cover, this time in calico that went over the ottoman first to give a bit of stability and then the other cover went over after.

After you pull the cover over the ottoman - and believe it it is a struggle.  That thing is tight. You need to then secure the fabric to the underside of the ottoman. I use a staple gun and then hammer in the staples afterwards to make sure it is nice and tight.  The underside does not need to be pretty as you get to cover it up with another piece of fabric. In my case I recycled the bottom and feet that was originally on the ottoman.

And the finished product

I am debating whether to get a piece of glass cut for the top, but in the mean time I am happy looking at my new ottoman that was FREE!! apart from the fabric to recover it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Last of the Earthworks....

Last week Mat made a call to the bobcat man hoping that he would be available Sunday to do some more work at the house.  We have a house warming/grand final BBQ in a couple of weeks and we wanted to crack on with the outside works to get ready for the influx of people that haven't seen the house.   Unfortunately he said he was not available, which put a dampener on things.

Yesterday morning we got a call from him to say that the job he had booked did not take as long as he thought and he could come around straight away if we still wanted him.  Yes Please!!! So five minutes later he was dropping off his excavator and going home to pick up the bobcat.

We wanted him to move the big piles of dirt and clay from the front of the house, take them around to the back of the house and level out the ground on the side of the house so we could continue with turfing.

This is the progress that we made yesterday.

The dirt piles dont look that big, but after over an hour of going backwards and forwards with the bobcat, it looked like not much had been moved

Over two hours of moving dirt - we now have a level pad so that we can start turfing.

The bricks have also been moved to the side of the front yard.  They are the bricks left behind by the brick layers when the replaced the window sills on the ground floor last week.  Another blog post coming up about the work that we have had done with the bricks

Where did the dirt go?

Firstly it was dumped off the edge of the house pad

It was leveled off to make a smooth slope that we can turf and mow. 

Do you know what we are doing next weekend????