Beg or Borrow but Don't Steal

Borrowing books wherever, whenever

In true EOFYS-style, I bought myself a no-frills Kobo mini eReader. Usually retailing at $99.99, it was going for $49.99 at JB HiFi. While I didn’t think I’d use an eReader much, I thought it would save me money on check-in luggage fees whilst travelling, plus no more having to lug around a heavy Lonely Planet and/or foreign-language phrase book*.

Apart from having to a) buy it and b) charge it, there is a financial downside to buying an eReader: there’s no such thing as a secondhand eBook. Continue reading

Beg or Borrow but Don't Steal, Going Green, Secondhand Scavengers

The best things in life are freecycled

My local library has given me access to a lot of mustbethrifty resources. One aspect of thrift that has been cropping up in my reading is freecycling, ‘the act of giving away usable unwanted items to others instead of disposing of them in landfills’ (via Wikipedia). First conceptualised by in 2003, freecycling is a form of hand-me-down via online groups or forums.

A couple of months back, I signed up to the local freecycle group’s mailout in the hope of finding some old sports trophies as wedding decorations, but my first foray into freecycling was a failure: no one replied to my WANTED post, and I spent fifteen minutes every day clearing my inbox of Freecycle spam.

I continued subscribing to Freecycle, however. There was something appealing about nosing through other people’s junk. Continue reading

Beg or Borrow but Don't Steal, Money Matters

To the thriftster couple

Without the luxury of regular incomes, Melbourne writers Patrick Pittman and Josephine Rowe are good at making the most of a modest budget. $7000, the maximum they could afford to spend on their nuptials, is puritanically modest, considering the average Australian wedding totals at $36,200 (IBISWorld, via The Age).

Apart from a $500 booze-related blip, they stayed within budget, thanks to family and friends. Being on the committee that managed the Newstead Racecourse Reserve, Josephine’s sister was able to secure the venue for free. A photographer friend provided his services without charge. Car hire was more of a car borrow.

Despite calling in so many favours, Patrick and Josephine thought that they could have got away with more. Continue reading

Beg or Borrow but Don't Steal, Money Matters, Second-hand Scavengers

Whimsical furnishings

So you’ve got the keys to the new house. The walls are patched from an exodus of photo frames. There’s electricity and water, but very little else. It’s a shell, not a home.

If you were pre-mortgage, you would have used and abused the plastic at a homemaker centre, but you’ve just received your first statement and realised that the interest accrued is greater than the cost of a new couch.

You decide to do without. Who needs a bed when there’s perfectly good carpet? But while you might enjoy camping out in your living room for a week or two, your back does not, and your partner isn’t impressed with eating off the floor. Time to invest in some stuff. Continue reading

Beg or Borrow but Don't Steal, Footnote Frivolity***, Guest Post, Money Matters

GUEST POST: Signs your partner/friend is budget fail

We all know one. They turn up to the pub/restaurant/show knowing they can’t afford it, fumble around counting their coins in front of you, muttering about how they will cover the drink they just ordered by doing without vegetables until their next pay comes in. They complain about always being sick because they can’t afford to buy actual food, while punching a text on their latest model iPhone to the friend they’ve been out getting trashed with all week about the new pair of fashion stockings they just bought ‘on sale’!

I realise I must sound bitter and this post is something of a rant, yet I seem to find myself with this type of ‘budget-fail’ friend again and again. I’m fairly certain I once supported an ex’s lifestyle to the tune of $10,000 (his savings) while I watched my nest egg evaporate. Either I ooze ‘I’m a Sucker’ or I’m afflicted with a combination of minimal immunity to manipulation and an over-active ‘taking responsibility’ gland. I figure the least I can do is share my experiences so that others can see the red flags and run Continue reading

Beg or Borrow but Don't Steal, Dress to Impress (for Less), Footnote Frivolity***

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Finding appropriate wedding guest attire is not an easy task.’s Nina Callaway includes a long list of don’ts in her article on wedding guest attire etiquette.


  • White. (This rule has relaxed some, and you can get away with wearing a printed dress with a white background and some cream colored clothing. Just be careful not to upstage the bride.)
  • Black to a daytime wedding
  • Jeans
  • Anything too sexy or revealing
  • Anything torn, with holes, stained, too big or too small for you!
  • Anything sleeveless or strapless to a religious wedding. Bring a wrap to cover your shoulders.

And then there are the costs involved in finding a dress, heels, and accessories (hat, shawl, handbag, and jewellery).

So how does one dress inoffensively well without dipping into the mortgage redraw facility?  Continue reading

Beg or Borrow but Don't Steal, Gardening on a Budget, Going Green

Not so slim pickings

Has anyone seen American Pickers? I don’t watch much reality TV, but voyeuristic bargain-hunting and junk-scavenging never fails to perk me up on a Wednesday night.

Inspired by the show’s Mike and Frank, I’ve been doing some pickin’ of my own in Boroondara. Yep, it’s hard rubbish week once more in the affluent inner east, and whenever I drive through its streets, a fifteen-minute trip turns into a forty-five-minute detour. Continue reading