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September 23, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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How to Get More Money$ For Da Honey$

My granddad is a very frugal man. Once, while visiting Australia, he found a style of sandals (that he naturally, to this day, pairs with socks) that he particularly appreciated, on sale for some ridiculously small amount. He bought ten pairs and lugged them back across the ditch, so he’d never have to spend money on sandals again. In my family, if someone finds a good bargain, we say “you did a Barrie” in honour of Granddad’s economical ways. Penny-pinching ways somewhat run in the genes, so here are my top tips for saving money in your flat.

1. Save on power, have flat spoon sessions.

It’s a great way to ensure flat bonding, and keep warm while minimising heating costs. Alternatively, if you have smelly flatmates or there’s no super-king bed to house all your flatmates plus guests at your place, just heat one room in the house at the time. This should still encourage your flat to hang out together in the lounge while retaining your personal space, as well as minimising resentment-potential for that selfish flatmate who always has a fan heater on in his/her bedroom.

2. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: buy in bulk.

If you can afford to put in the dollars, buying necessities like flour and other goods that won’t spoil easily is a lot cheaper if you do it in bulk. You can explore my favourite place in all of Wellington, Moore Wilson’s, and spend hours LOL-ing at the giant tubs of mayonnaise and preserved artichokes, because everyone knows giant versions of things are hilarious. Similarly, buy your weekly vegetables from the market rather than the supermarket; it’s between ⅓–½ the price, and buying it all at once will mean you spend less overall.

3. Try dumpster diving.

Someone with such refined taste as me, Nigella Lawstudent, hasn’t actually tried this, but I’ve heard rumours of a friend in Dunedin furnishing an entire flat from the dumpster contents of Warehouse Stationery, and another who regularly gets enough food for a week from a single dumpster-dive expedition. Be careful though, as you are ~technically~ stealing private property, even if it is abandoned, and if you get on the wrong side of a security guard you might get in trouble.

4. Grow a vege garden.

Needing heaps of money/tools/products to start a garden is a myth. You can (and should) make your own compost, and then all you have to do is dig. You can get seeds easily, either for cheap from gardening stores, or from local gardening collectives. Growing stuff is good for the soul too, supposedly, which is totes a bonus.

5. Make your own cleaning products.

Vinegar and baking soda are the only two ingredients you will ever need, according to every single greenie book on household cleaning I’ve read (more than I care to admit). Luckily for us poor souls, both of these are super-cheap (particularly when bought in bulk, hurrah!) You can even use vinegar and baking soda to clean your hair if you want, but again, my refined tastes see me investing a little more for something with slightly less stench. I buy an eco-friendly multi-purpose spray ‘n’ wipe for day-to-day cleaning, because I refuse to buy into that different-cleaner-for-each-room marketing ploy.

6. Get chickens.

This may be a bit far-fetched for some, but consider it as a possibility. If you’re not planning on moving flats for a while, chickens will produce free eggs if you give them food and love and grass and shelter and stuff. You will feel like suburban royalty if you get chickens, and if you get a rooster too, you can really annoy your hungover flatmates/nemesis neighbours early on Sunday mornings.

7. Get free student healthcare.

Why pay for what you can for free, right here at uni? If you’re really keen, you can just stop by Mauri Ora to pick up your free condoms from the bowls on the tables in the waiting area even when you’re not waiting for an appointment.

8. Steal toilet paper from campus.

Salient does not condone this, but has heard that you can often find whole rolls of toilet paper that aren’t yet in the dispensers sometimes in the cubicles. Stock up; it may be one-ply, but at least it’s something.

9. Shop around.

This is particularly useful for power—whatsmynumber.org.nz will tell you how much you could save just by switching power retailers. Be wary of signing contracts with power retailers; this poor writer learnt her lesson the hard way when her flat was slapped with a $700 bill after being wooed into a contract because the first four months were half-price (fuck you, Genesis).

10. If you get stuck, use Uni services.

There’s always help available if you get really stuck with financial problems—see the “Financial Support & Advice” page at victoria.ac.nz; from giving you budgeting advice to helping you out with the Hardship Fund, make an appointment and they’ll put you right.

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