OLD age pensioners are the salt of the earth.
Most soldier on, without complaints.
They are not whingers.
Most went through hard times where seeking second-hand goods were a habit as there was no money to buy anything brand new.
They survived to become great, unheralded, true blue Australians.
Luckily in those days, the only drugs were tobacco and alcohol, not the "killers" we see on the streets today.
Now, on small pensions, they must learn how to top up those empty pockets.
Below are some tips and information that could work for you.
Be determined, be lucky.
First of all, don't regard the shopping catalogues that are shoved into your letterbox as junk mail. Far from it. They are valuable and your guide to cheaper shopping. We study them; make our lists and do our thrice-weekly shopping trip - what we call our "big shop".
Because the big supermarkets are grouped together, it is not physically exhausting to visit each one, if your object is to save money.
It's not a wise thing to limit all you’re shopping to one supermarket.
With the fierce competition at present with the half-price specials they offer, study each catalogue carefully and mark off the items that interest you and will benefit your pocket. Relax with a cup of tea or coffee, and a nice digestive biscuit. Be at peace but alert. If a supermarket offers you a regularly used item at half price but it's a big quantity, talk to a friend or a relative and go halves.
With these half-price specials, you are buying two for the price of one, therefore not increasing your spending.
Now write down your shopping list and set out for the shops.
Remember, if you have a certain day for your shopping and your pension is not paid the same day, you can ask Centrelink to change the day you receive the pension.
For example, we changed our pension day from a Thursday to Wednesday, to suit us.
Take it easy at the shops. Sit down in the air-conditioning, have a cup of tea or coffee and relax. Remember, this day you are saving money. Don't rush, be calm and save.
Buying meat at a supermarket is not a wise option. The only advantage to you, the shopper, is that it's in the same place you buy your groceries.
The supermarket meat packages are eye-catching as they concentrate on a price point. A single piece of meat, in a small tray, could be, say, $7 but when you look at the price per kilo, it is sky high, (pop a Valium)
If you are curious, visit your local butcher and compare the price, you will be surprised.
We shop at a local butcher in Burnett St, Bundaberg, where you can buy a couple of kilos of pork spare ribs for just under $10 a kilo.
We mention shops as a guide. We do not gain financially from this. It's your choice. The same meat in a supermarket could be pushing to $20 a kilo.
We remember a time when breast of lamb, a fatty cut, was so cheap. Now one supermarket advertises this as lamb riblets. The price we are not sure on, but it must be $10 a kilo or more.
Once upon a time dog bones were free, a gesture of goodwill, from the butcher to his regular customer.
Fruit and Veg
The same principle applies to fruit and vegetables.
We shop at a greengrocer where they sell a lot of local produce, bought from nearby farmers.
Prices are very cheap on bucket lots but don't be surprised by a couple of duds.
Look at the price and save.
Shalom markets, on a Sunday morning, are where you can get bargains on fresh produce. I reckon many stallholders are farmers themselves.
But this market, besides being cheap, has a variety of goods on offer.
We buy our bread from Coles at $3 a loaf. It's an Italian-style Pane de Casa, which, when toasted with two free-range eggs, is a trip to paradise at breakfast each morning. That's our indulgence.
We find it essential to make a weekly menu.
You are able to see what you plan to eat each day, so shop for those ingredients.
If you're not making casseroles or stews, you won't need carrots, for example. Leaving carrots in the fridge for too long will make them soft.
Keep to your shopping list; don't be tempted to buy items not on your list. Also, if you make shepherd's pie or bolognaise sauce and you are only a couple or single, buy twice enough meat.
The extra portions that you make can be put in the fridge for the next day. Heated and served, it often tastes better as the sauce/pie is rested. Most importantly you have an evening off from cooking.
TV programs like Masterchef and MKR are okay to watch but expensive to copy.
I don't think your partner would be impressed with a small portion of something exotic with a sprig of parsley on the top.
The important thing to remember is "you are what you eat".
My wife and I eat fruit, vegetables and salads each day. Fruit and veg, or fruit and salad. When you really think, these are natural and fresh and should contain all the natural ingredients and vitamins to satisfy your body.
I know fresh and natural have sustained my body and possibly made me look a bit younger for my age. I don't need expensive anti-ageing cream, I get mine in an apple or similar.
Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and the dentist at bay.
Pensioners receive their pension every fortnight, which means there are 26 pensions in a year.
Now, instead of spending your pension every two weeks, spend it every three weeks.
Therefore, in your mind, you receive 17 pensions.
Okay, still with me?
Because it's become three weeks, that should become your main shopping day.
Obviously you will have to top up with the basics, such as milk and bread, and perhaps a beer in between main shopping days.
You will need determination to get it to work for you, otherwise be lackadaisical and you will fail.
Now because you are only using your new 17 pensions, you have what we call "nine free pensions" (your 26 fortnightly pensions have become 17 three-weekly pensions.
With those nine free pensions you can put money aside for rent, rates, power bills and holidays, which you deserve.
Also splurge on a new dress, a new took box, whatever.
We managed to save money, once the system was working, for a cruise to New Zealand. With the extra though, it's important to "kill" those big bills quickly.
But be careful with your money.
It will take a bit of time getting used to changing that fortnightly pension into a pension you start spending every three weeks.
It works very well for our household, a married couple. It's all about being strict with you and then enjoying the benefits of those nine extra pensions.
Other Ways to Save
Look at other ways to save money. Look at growing vegetables in pots if you yearn for that "younger look" and want to eat fresh. Good starters are lettuce, silverbeet and herbs if you're an inventive cook.
An herb assortment relates to your cooking requirements, so easy starters are parsley and basil.
With lettuce you buy a punnet containing, say, six seedlings. You can get those six into a big pot. Water them well, give them a nitrogen fertilizer weekly and you will harvest six lovely lettuce.
They'll cost you about 50c each. In the shops you'll pay up to $2 a lettuce, but yours is fresh from the pot and chemical free.
Another good tip is put all your gold loose change in a moneybox. Open it in December and have a very merry Christmas.
Another is, if you are a couple, open separate bank accounts away from your usual joint accounts. Use it to put the odd $5 or more into this account.
Just let it grow, don't use it.
Open the account with someone like Bendigo Bank, it's fee-free. In no time you have $100 or more, enough to take your "old dutch" out for dinner.
Now a reminder to your health providers at the end of the telephone line.
The Home Doctor phone number is 13 55 66. If you have an illness of just feel crook, remember this is a free service. It's bulk-billed to Medicare, so you do not need money and they come to you.
If your mind fails you at times, like the writer, keep your scripts with your chemist. They oversee your health for free. They supply you with blister packs containing your medicines. If you are sick, many will deliver to your door.
Also remember chemists are professionals. If you occasionally question your doctor's view, medicines, the chemist is a good bloke or lady (better not say sheila) to talk to. Also they have a sense of humour, like mine.
You come out with a grin on your face. A laugh a day is a good target.
That's all folks. We hope you succeed. It took us a bit of time getting used to it, but we made it work to our benefit.
Now it's natural for us to think of 17 pensions a year and nine free ones.