Monday, 29 October 2007

2nd birthday

A wonderful weekend just went past. A few significant events occurred that weekend. Daylight savings just kicked in Melbourne and more importantly, my son just celebrated his second birthday. The celebrations were extremely worthwhile as it allow the family to get past a difficult 12 months. It also gave me an opportunity to get to know his friends a little better.

A few posts ago, I wrote about the Frankston Toy Library, where we hired some playground equipment at a cost of $10 for the weekend. My son and his friends loves the equipment. It was certainly $10 well spent.

That evening, I also though about other ways which we could have saved money.
  1. Bake you own cake. My wife baked the two cakes for the day. We actually had two birthday celebrations. One in the morning with my son's friends, and one in the afternoon with the family. By making our own cake, we save money as the cakes only cost about $13 in raw materials. It probably save us about $25 to $30.
  2. Host it in your own backyard. Our house has a nice verandah in the backyard. The verandah area was also quite large, and have enough space to house a few of the playground equipments. This gave us a nice area which we can host the party. If we had to go to a indoor gym or similar, it would have cost at least $100 for the day.
  3. Make your own wrapping paper. My wife recently started a tradition where my son and her would make wrapping paper by painting a large sheet of butcher's paper. In the gift that it is wrapping, we make note of who painting the wrapping paper. We think that it gives the wrapping paper a personal touch.
In some ways, we did not try very hard to save money. I felt that because it is a birthday celebration for my son, being frugal in not is in the spirit of celebration. My wife and I were more focus on ensuring that everybody at the celebration enjoyed themselves and help to celebrate my son's journey into his third year.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Carnival of Personal Finance, #121

I should have shared the love a few days ago when the CoPF #121 was published, but I was traveling last week and has not managed to catch up. So, lets cut to the chase,

The CoPF #121 was hosted by Ask Mr. Credit Card. There is the Columbus day edition, and there is also an editor's choice edition.

Some of my favourite articles from the CoPF are:

Exjackly has a great article on How to live on minimum wage.

I hope that you enjoy these articles as much as I do.

Frankston Toy Library, a wonderful service

My family and I visited the toy library tonight. My wife took my son a few weeks back and borrowed a couple of toys, but tonight is the first time that I visited the toy library. My local toy library is the Frankston Toy Library.

Quoting from the website,

Frankston Toy Library is a non-profit organisation, primarily operated and managed by volunteer to provide services and resources to families, community groups and organisations at a reasonable cost.

When my wife joined up, she paid $70 for a membership. This is an annual fee. Besides paying then annual fee, we must also commit to doing 3.5 hours of volunteer work. After visiting the library, I would consider the fee and the commitment to be a small token to the wonderful services that is provided by the toy library.

Let's explore the benefits of joining the toy library.
  1. As my son gets older, his interests in different toys will change. The toy library facilitates this by allow us to constantly change his toys over a two week period. The variety of toys appears to be suitable for newborns right up to about the kindergarten aged kids.
  2. If we are planning for a children event, like a birthday party, we can hire a party pack from the toy library. For my son's upcoming birthday party, we hired a party pack that includes a non-motorised marry-go-round, a crawl-through tunnel, a big seesaw and a climbing castle for a total of $10. If we had to purchased these separately, it would have cost around the $350 mark.
  3. By doing volunteer work, we continue the wonderful services provided by the toy library so that other parents and children can enjoy them.
  4. Some of the toys are very expensive to purchase, could be up in the hundreds. So by borrowing the toys, it is allow you to test drive the toys before purchasing it.
  5. The selection of toys is enormous, I must have sighted about 40 different type of jigsaw puzzles or about 10 different style of bicycles. If you child gets bored with a toy, return it and borrow something else.
  6. The staff at the Frankston Toy Library is extremely knowledgeable about the toys and the suitability of the toys to the child. So ask them if you are in doubt.
  7. By allowing your child to play with different toys, it promotes them to learn by experimenting, sort of "learning on the job".
The Frankston Toy Library is part of the Toy Library Victoria, which is a umbrella group of toy libraries across Victoria.

The service provided by the toy library is a wonderful service, so lets support them by visiting them, donating our pre-loved toys to them and contribute to their on-going by volunteering some of your time.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

7 random things about me

Thanks plonkee.
plonkee recently tagged me to write 7 random items about me. Well, here goes.
  1. The first car that I ever drove is a 1970 toyota carolla. It is green, and my family first car in Australia.
  2. Although I don't actively follow any team, my favourite football league in Europe is the Italian Series A, as oppose to everyone's favourite the English Premier League.
  3. I prefer to write with a fountain pen instead of a ball point pen.
  4. Every time I visit a South East Asian country, I look forward to eating some durian (if they are in season), or mangosteen .
  5. My favourite sound in the world is the laughter of my son and my wife.
  6. When I was 25, I backpacked around Tasmania for three weeks and it kick start my love of nature.
  7. My splin on my legs are bowed.
To keep the tagging going foward, I have tagged the following five fantastic blogs, (not necessary of the PF nature).

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Saving on citylink tolls by opening an account.

Like most major cities around the world, Melbourne had a massive system of freeways. Over the years, as the freeways are being constructed, the government introduced tolls as a way of recuperating the cost of building it. Like the Westgate Bridge constructed in the 70s, it was tolled and then after a few years, the toll was lifted.

The tolling system for the freeways were administrated by a citylink which is a subsidiary of Transurban.

The tolls are electronic, so no more stopping at toll booths and throwing a couple of coins into a bucket. They are several ways of paying for the tolls.

Usually when we use a tolled freeway, we just purchase a weekend pass. A weekend pass allows you to drive on any of the tolled freeways, all weekend. A weekend pass cost $11.30.

As we drove onto the tolled freeway, and exited, I realised that it may cheaper to open an account and use an etag. With etag, the charges are based upon you entry and exit points into the tolled freeway. With a pass, you can only purchase a weekend pass, a 24 hour pass and a Tullamarine pass.

Looking at my drive on the weekend, I entered the tolled freeway at Monash Freeway/Toorak, and exited at Burnely. It would have cost me $1.57. However, it actually cost me $11.30 as I purchased a weekend pass .

Citylink has a handy calculator to help you work out your traveling cost.

After looking back on your freeway usage, we ended up opening an account with citylink. Furthermore, I tend to be forgetful after I used the tolled freeway and incurred late toll fee of $10. With the etag, the tolls are automatically deducted from your account.

photo credit: renato cardoso

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

My son came across a pyramid scheme..

Ever since I had an email address, I have been getting the typical spam where they promise to give me the all the riches in the world given to me from the son from an assassinated army general in Nigeria, well you get the idea. Anyway, when my wife showed me a pyramid letter she got from her group of friends, I was very skeptical. After reading it, I realised that it is a pyramid scheme that could work.

The idea is to get the kids reading books. If you follow the idea correctly, you should be receive about 36 books in a few weeks time.

This is how it works.
  1. The letter that my son got has two names at the top of it, the name of the child whom gave the letter to my son and the name of the child whom gave the letter to my son's friend.
  2. A blank letter came with the one my son received.
  3. On the blank letter, my wife puts the name of my son and his friend.
  4. my wife also puts down on the list the names of six of my son's friends.
  5. We select a book to post my son's friend's friend.
  6. We also post the six letters to the each of my son's friends.
  7. Each of the my son's friends that receive the letter will repeat the process.
  8. In about two weeks time, my son should receive 36 books.
It sounds a bit complicated so let work through an example.
  1. My son receives a letter from his friend, Jack.
  2. On top of the letter is Jack's name and Alan, Jack's friend.
  3. With the blank letter, my wife would put my son's name and Jack's name on it.
  4. Also on the blank letter, she puts down my son's six other friend.
  5. My wfie posts a book off to Alan.
  6. My wife also post six letters, one to each of my son's friend.
We have just posted our six letters out. When we receive some books, I shall keep you posted.

By the way, we have some blank letters that we have scanned. So if you want to start this off, we can email you a copy of the blank letter.

Let me know if you think if there are any holes in this idea.

photo credit: Claudia Meyer