Our Frugal Lifestyle

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Passionate about eco-frugality. I used to party hard, clubbing my way from pay-packet to pay-packet. Never getting ahead, just getting by. Then came our much wanted baby with no savings in the bank - only an old car. Changes were made to our lifestyle and we didn't turn back. In the past 6yrs we purchased a flat, found employment, lived below our means, built an emergency fund, purchased a reliable car and saw the financial benefits of our frugal lifestyle. Our only debt is our mortgage. Our aim is to manage our cash flow wisely, pay off our home quickly and eventually work for pleasure, not necessity. Join us on our journey, share insights, tips and tricks to help us and others to get ahead while having a good time.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rubbish Diving

I dived my hands into the recycling bin at my mums unit block and then our unit block. What do you think of that? I thought it was a bit eww as I felt squeamish, however worth the 5 minute effort.

Cash for Cans our 1st Loot.

In my town, marked cans and bottles will be exchangeable for cash. 10 cents per item to be exact. I told Dolly we can earn some extra pocket money getting our neighbours beer bottles and soft drink cans (we will ask them to save them for us, to prevent future diving). Our block of 6 flats overfill the recycling bin each week. We have 8 people who drink a minimum of 1 beer per night. We can easily collect $5.60 to $11.20 a week and split it between us.

At $5.60 x 52 weeks = That's a minimum of $291.00 a year or $145 each. Not too shabby for a 4 year old.

The best part is this will give us a money project together where we can make a little cash, look at the coins and discuss their history/worth/possibilities, plan goals, talk about recycling & ecology, discuss work choices, look at banking & interest, count and use math skills. (If any one can recommend an excellent website or fun book teaching younger children about money please let me know.) I think this will be an interesting project for us.

Oh... and my 5 minutes hand diving... I pulled out 37 bottles and cans just on the top of the bins. There were many more lower down. That's $3.70 to start us off. Pretty cool I think. What do you think? Would you do it? What if they were given to you by neighbours? Would you bother exchanging them? Many people can't be bothered and that is where I think Dolly will reap in the rewards.

Update: One of our neighbours gave us 11 bottles today and will keep all his beer bottle for us. Yeah! So that's 37+11=48 $4.80 head start.


  1. In a heart beat! Money is money. Where I live in the US, bottles are not refundable and cans are purchased by the pound. Somethin like 27 cans equals one pound. One pound of cans might be worth 53 cents. So, to me it looks like you will make a small fortune. Carry a bag in the car or a box and collect those cans or bottles that you see when you are out. You will possibly outstrip your expectations this year in bottle and can finds.

  2. Great project! Nothing like that where I live.Dolly could make some serious pocket money and learn about recycling at the same time.It's a win win situation :)

  3. Wow, you and Dolly will be reaping the rewards in no time! We don't have a reward system here :( Why are people still throwing out their cans and bottles when there are incentives in place to recycle them??

  4. We can recycle cans at a large supermarket in the UK for reward points. I give all of ours to my parents and they spend the points they earn on breakdown cover.

    I think you are teaching Dolly a 'real' lesson about money.

    Wow, she's going to be incredible when she grows up.

    Sft x

  5. When I was a child we didn't have much money and I'd never heard of recycling! However shops paid 2 or 3 pence on returned drinks bottles so my friend and I would scour the district collecting them and earn a good amount. My parents had no spare cash but I think this was good. I am frugal now and never waste anything. I find this enjoyable and I'm sure your daughter will benefit from your project.

  6. I agree with PP, money is money no matter how you come about it. Some people might turn their nose up at 10cents per item, but it adds up very quickly. We have an 80km round trip drive to the nearest paying recycler which for us negates the reward benefit.

  7. I think this is so fantastic! In Victoria They don't exchange cash for cans. Such a shame! The bin diving part isn't too bad. I used to dive for food in supermarket bins, that was an adventure!

    1. You can exchange cans for cash at simsmetal in Victoria :)

  8. I have no problem with people going through bins where they have permission, like you obtained through your mother.

    In our neighbourhood, we have people actually come through the neighbourhood on rubbish day to go through *every* bin put out on the street, which I'm not so keen on. The people vary, and have become very territorial. Because of the competition, they have started coming late at night - besides being uncomfortable with people going through my bin, I get frustrated with being woken up by the noise of them rumaging followed by the dragging of the collectables in a big sack.

    Your situation is different, and I would be comfortable with people I know asking permission (in fact, I'd even keep these items aside), but I'm not comfortable with strangers going through every bin in the street.

  9. What an excellent idea. In the UK there is a saying ' where there's muck there is brass' and their muck is your brass !

  10. This is such an amazing idea! Not only you get some extra cash but you are helping the environment as well.

  11. When I was a kid you could "cash a can" at the aluminium recycling place, however they seem to be gone now (at least in NSW) since council recyling centres will take your cans. I would have no problem with it and would encourage my own kids to do this if available in our area. Good for you teaching Dolly about money its a lesson the earlier learnt the better I think.

  12. Hi Practical Linda, Good idea keeping a plastic bag with me. Any cans and bottles littered on the beach we can pick up and exchange for cash!

    Hi Dreamer, This is new to us in the NT and the Govt is fighting to keep it as Coke is trying to stop it.

    Bryallen, People throw out as they see it as too much hard work to collect. I guess people think 10 cents isn't worth their while - but all those 10 cents add up. Us frugalistas know the value of small change but most people don't. I was one of those people who didn't not so long ago.

    SFT, I'm trying to teach my daughter stuff I never knew. I'm so in the dark about money and what to do with it, I hope my daughter will be able to party hard like I did but also save hard and have better options.

    Jean, back in 1975 I would collect 1 or 2 glass coke bottles and exchange them for a few coins and in turn spend them on lollies. My mum never gave me money as she was single, low income earner and a great world traveller. Then cash for bottles no longer existed. It's all very political.

    Daffodil, I guess the round trip would only be worth it IF you had to go to that town for another reason. Then you could load up the car and do what you need to do and cash in your bottles to put towards your fuel. Our exchange place is 2 kms away (5 minute car drive). It's easy for us.

    Hi Clareewall, It's new in the NT. We are following SA footsteps. Maybe a push for the rest of Oz to get on the bandwagon...

    Libby, Thanks for the tip for VIC people.

    Hi Kate, Our bins are communal for the 6 units at my place.It the same at my mums. 2 regular bins for normal rubbish and 1 recycling bin. When I was living in a Hollywood suburb the cans and bottles bin was an open tub. Homeless people would take stuff out of that only. No digging around - more dignity for everyone. My situation is different I'm collecting to save more cash - however for homeless people this was a livelihood and one I felt very bad and guilty about.

    Hey Miss Piggy, I read the saying a few times - trying to get my head around it. It's a bit of a tongue twister. We have sure hit our Brass with others Muck :-)

    Fariha, When I lived in NY the concierge's kid's used to collect cans on each floor of the building to exchange for cash. We had small tubs for the cans/recyling. Does this still exist?

    Hi Lisa, I remember when I was a teen you could cash cans. I think it was 1 cent a can. I never did it.

  13. Good for you, and teaching Dolly some wonderful lessons into the bargain. I remember collecting the bottles when I was a kid and cashing them in for a HUGE bag of lollies at the shop! Sadl, my own kids never got to experience that fun!

  14. That is a good idea! I plan on stopping and picking up the bottles and cans all the hunters, snowmobilers, hikers and people who like to come out to enjoy the forest leave behind. They just throw them all over the sides of the road. It would probably add up to a nice little sum.


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