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If you are shopping for value and you are a little patient you can reap significant savings by buying online. Books is an area where you can shop a lot more efficiently. Unfortuantly books in Australia tend to be a whole lot more expensive than buying the same book overseas. If you are an avid reader and can forecast ahead a few weeks what you would like to read next then open an Amazon account and purchase your books online.

As an example I knew my husband wanted to read the latest Steve Jobs bestseller. The book was retailing for around $39-$44 in Sydney. Looking on Amazon in the US it was around $17. I placed the order and the booked arrived a few weeks later. Easy.

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The US continues to be a great shopping destination with the exchange rate above parity for Australians. A favourite shopping event for me is going to the Factory Outlets. Generally speaking the price of items at these Outlets are around half of what the retail cost is in Australia. My kids took the opportunity to top up on the fashion items like Van’s shoes on a recent trip. In Hawaii the Waikele Premium Outlet just out of Honolulu is hard to beat. Find impressive savings at Adidas, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap Outlet, Guess, LeSportsac, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tommy Bahama, Tommy Hilfiger, True Religion Brand Jeans and more.

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Christmas Stall

As part of the festive season my daughter’s school runs a Festival. I was fortunate enough to have a stall dedicated to beautiful homewares.

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Vintage Bedspread

A vintage double sized bed spread which I found at Salvos. In perfect condition! I had it dry-cleaned. Bargain.

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A friend of mine recently was undergoing some home renovations when I popped over for a visit one day. Her renovations required the removal and disposal of their reverse cycle split system LG air-conditioner. I decided there and then that my friend can dispose of the air conditioner straight into my house! I offered $300 for it knowing that a new air-conditioning system is >$1000. Next day I arranged a refrigeration tradesman to de-gas the air conditioner, remove it from my friends house and take it over to my house and install it. My friend was happy, I was happy. I had a fully recharged second hand air conditioner for $300 + the cost of the tradesman. Just in time for summer.

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Our home kitchen was long overdue for a remodel. You know the feeling. Your cooking ambitions far outweigh the capacity of your kitchen. How do you fix this without spending a fortune on a new kitchen? Facing that same dilemma I starting looking around for options.

A few streets away in our suburb there was a a large residence, on acreage, undergoing sweeping changes inside and out. As it turned out they were ripping out their old kitchen and putting in a brand new one. Upon inspection of their old kitchen it looked great actually and could be reused. The kitchen components were modular and made entirely of wood so refitting this kitchen into my kitchen space would be easy. In discussion with our local builder we offered to buy the second hand kitchen components, including the kitchen sink, for $1000. The builders removed the kitchen and we loaded it onto a trailer and took the pieces around to my place. This was a beautiful custom made kitchen that was classic in style but needed a fresh coat of paint. Lucky for me my friend was wanting a complete overhaul & change in style. Now let me point out at this stage that a new kitchen built in the same materials would be in excess of $10,000 to buy off the shelf.

We then arranged for the builders to gut our old kitchen back to bare shell. The builder spent probably a hour or so working out the best way to fit all the modular kitchen pieces together. Once we were happy with the intended arrangement a number of tradesman including carpenters, plumber, electrician and painters worked away until the new kitchen was built. Only hiccup was that we were short some of the bench top. We arranged a small section of the bench top to be made up and had that fitted. That cost $1000 which was a bit of a shock but anyhow we were pleased with the finished product.

 

The final product of a built kitchen was stunning. Further because it was a custom built kitchen we were able to arrange components how we wanted around our existing appliances like fridge and stove.

We had some kitchen components left over and built a vanity for one of the bathrooms using stone offcuts from a nearby marble granite vendor. Another piece of cupboard we now use in the garage for storage.

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Vintage Fabric

I found four meters of this gorgeous Cabbage Rose fabric which I then framed half of it over a canvas frame.

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We love our coffee. A cup or two in the morning is such a delight. That said it needs to be good quality coffee. We are fortunant in Australia to have such good quality coffee served from cafe’s and coffee boutiques. Downside is it is expensive. A take-away coffee in the morning for 2x adults over 365 days a year add’s up. Actually at $3.50 per coffee that adds up to $2,555. Mmmm. What if we could make the high quality coffee at home. We are not filter coffee drinkers, we need expresso’s. For a number of years we fumbled around with a manual expresso coffee machine where you ground the coffee beans then put the grounds in the coffee machine and force hot water through the grounds. Coffee was OK but there was a lot of cleaning up to do. Coffee quality was not always consistent.

Over at a friends place one night for dinner the host asked us after dinner whether we wanted coffee. We agreed and the host said would you like a latte, cappuccino, long black etc. Do you want decaf, weak or full strength? We were a bit surprised and sceptical by the offering but placed our order with the host anyway. Literally a few minutes later the host was back with all the coffees. How did he prepare those so quick? Further the coffee was amazing. Of course I had to check-out how he did it. The answer was he had a Nespresso machine. The machine uses capsules of coffee to make what ever type of coffee you are after. There are many types of capsules depending on the blend and strength of the coffee you are seeking. A milk frother is used for cappuccino’s and latte’s.

Next day I made some enquiries about Nespresso and purchased a Nespresso/Delonghi Citiz coffee machine with milk frother. Haven’t looked back since. Basically no cleaning to do for superior coffee that is quick and cheap to make.

The math on the cost of coffee is as follows:

  • Initial Nespresso machine purchase – say $499
  • Each Coffee capsule: ~66 cents (depends on blend)

So first year cost for one coffee a day, 2x adults over 365 days a year = $980

That puts you way ahead on buying take-aways. On top of that when you are entertaining your guests will be happy to know that they can enjoy a top quality coffee that is prepared quickly.

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A little unknown with Australian Customs is getting your GST refunded back through the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) when you leave the country to go on holidays or business. It not only applies to tourists but also Australian citizens/residents. The TRS enables you to claim a refund, subject to certain conditions, of the goods and services tax (GST) that you pay on goods you buy in Australia. To claim a refund you must:

  • Spend $300 (GST inclusive) or more in the one store and get a single tax invoice
  • Buy goods no more than 30 days before departure to an International destination
  • Wear or carry the goods on board the aircraft or ship and present them along with your original tax invoice, passport and international boarding pass to a Customs Officer at a TRS facility

The refund only applies to goods you take with you as hand luggage or wear. This is ideal for laptops, iPods, iPads, camera’s, handbags or clothing etc that you take with you. At Sydney Airport for instance you can find the TRS just past the security point after immigration. Only takes a few minutes to obtain a refund.

See TRS FAQ

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I love this bedhead.

Bought it for $10, repainted it in a French grey and lightly sanded it back on the edges.

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