10 Super Budget Ideas (for creatives, families, pensioners, singles, students etc)

Just in time for the Federal Government’s 2014 Budget announcement. Here are some super saving budget ideas for creatives, families, students, parents, pensioners and some ways to make extra money. Some of these ideas I’ve tried and they’ve helped me, others have been recommended to me. I hope they can help you too!


1. FIVERR is a great website for creatives who are either looking for a service or would like to list their service of expertise, for a minimum of $5. They include Graphics / Online Marketing / Writing & Translation / Video and Animation / Music and Audio / Programming and Tech etc. You may need someone in one of those fields to do a job for you, like I needed a graphic designer. Or you may like to advertise your creative skills to get more $$ income.

Check it out-  www.fiverr.com

2.  Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for travellers looking to book accommodation around the world, online. It also allows you to list accommodation if you have a spare room which you’re looking to rent out for some extra $$ income.

Check it out- www.airbnb.com.au


3.  Extras work. If you’re wanting a taste of the entertainment industry, or you’re looking for some extra $$, why not list yourself with an Extras agency. I wish I did when I was starting out and was studying at university, instead of juggling three part time jobs in sales and hospitality. You’ll be paid around $25 an hour. It’s fun and a rather easy to make money. The only drawbacks – long waiting periods between scenes and the days are often ten hours long. Bonus – easy way of making a living and you may even meet your favourite actors on set!

4. Freecycle.  This service has been recommended to me by set and prop designers and stylists I’ve worked with on film jobs. I haven’t tried this service yet, but it’s on my bucket list. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own communities. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers and membership is free.


5. Child Care services at home and shared nannies. Some of my friends with children belong to various child home care services which they find more economical than commercial child centres (because the number of children in this service is small – (five) or they share a nanny. For more details contact –




Or if you have experience caring for children, can provide a warm, secure and family focussed environment, and want to build your own successful home based child care business, Family Day Care Australia can give you all the information you need to become a carer.



6. Toy Libraries (and book libraries)  Toy Libraries Australia (TLA) has over 160 toy libraries in Australia. Many friends of mine with children belong to this service and find it very economical. Like book libraries, you can fill out a request form asking for the latest toy released. Downfall – requesting for the latest release isn’t a guarantee and there may be long waiting periods for popular toys.


(You may also like to start your own Toy library and all your purchases could be tax-deductible – speak to your accountant.)


7.  Aged Pensioner Discounts and services. I’ve only just recently learned that some supermarkets (like IGA) offer special discount shopping days for elderly pensioners. In Perth, IGA has 5% off for elderly pensioners on Tuesdays! Please note- Not all IGA stores offer this but some do. Also some Health Food stores offer special discounts for elderly pensioners as well. Some councils offer special services for elderly pensioners (recreational services), so I highly recommend for you to call your local councils, stores, restaurants and supermarkets and ask if they offer any special discounts /services for elderly pensioners.

8. Price Match.  Many department stores (like Myer, Officeworks, Dick Smith, Toys R Us, Kmart etc ) and some Airlines (Jetstar, Flight Centre, British Airways etc) offer price matching. They can match the price, and some may offer a slightly cheaper price for you if you have proof – catalogue / newspaper article to show.

9. Foodies Saving Ideas. My friend Lo has shared some of these great food saving ideas with me. Some of them I’m yet to do, but they’re on my bucket list! 

– A left over roast chicken carcass can be used to make chicken stock. You can boil the carcass with some vegetables (onion, carrots etc) and then freeze the chicken stock for future use.

– Brown bananas can be used for smoothies / bake banana bread.

– Old bread can be put into a food processor to make bread crumbs / cut into squares to make croutons.

– Freeze unfinished champagne, red wine, lemons, limes etc into ice-cube trays to be used later for sauces etc. Champagne cubes with orange juice.

Screen shot 2014-05-12 at 11.13.02 PM

10. Creative recycling / Garage Sales etc. Many odds and ends can be recycled and made into creative things. For example, I’ve turned an old pair of jeans into book bag. I’ve also turned an old canvas bag into an outdoor plant pouch. Old jam, wine and mason jars can be turned into candle holders, paint brush holders, flower vases and so on. It’s just a matter of using your imagination and creativity. If you have a lot of junk which can’t be recycled, why not have a huge garage sale or attend a car boot sale.

It’s a great feeling  to spring clean your life, you’re also cleaning mental clutter and renewing your mind and soul. Give it a go and enJOY!   

10 Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas


 10 Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Don’t forget, Mother’s Day is on Sunday May 11th. I wish my mother was still here so I could make and give her these handmade gifts.

Here’s some creative ideas I’d like to share with you. A lot of love and thought goes towards making your own Mother’s Day gifts….so show your mum some love with these creative gift ideas for her to treasure forever!



Chime bells made from decorated terracotta pots via Nûby Australia



Photos printed on cups and glasses. Found on sortrature.com



Cupcake flowers Via QVC



Fruit basket display of chocolate coated flowers Via Tammy Speed



Painted family hand prints to make a family tree. Found on indulgy.com



A hand made card. Found on tiffkeetch.blogspot.com




                                         Make a button clock. Found on blogs.babble.com



 I love you pop out card. Found on weibo.com



Hand printed mugs. Found on 4.bp.blogspot.com



Hand made mice pin cushions. Found on flickr.com



enJOYing Life with Meaning


2014 started with a burst of inspiration!

With all the work that I do, there has to be a life message or

my work has to benefit others, hence my new project

– Don’t be a LOSER campaign #racismItstopsWithme



After reading reports of bullying and racism

on buses and online, I felt that there’s a great need

to educate children, at a grass roots level, in order

to stop these incidences from occurring.



I felt inspired to write an awareness campaign using

The Wong Side of Life puppets and produced a catchy

music video, under the direction of Pearl Tan.


We’ll be launching the video at Darlington

Public School on the 20th of June. Here I’ll not

only be showing the video for the first time but I’l also

be doing a motivational speech about my personal

experiences of racism & bullying and workshopping

with children.


I’ll then be touring schools in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

I feel that the more schools and venues this video is shown to,

there will be less racism and bullying. Instead a sense of

understanding, tolerance and respect for others in our

community will grow.


This is a project I’m passionate about and it gives me great joy to

make a difference for the next generation.



Christmas Joy


Christmas is coming up shortly and it’s the time of the year where I reflect the

year – 2013. I always write a short list of things I’m grateful for.


1) Family and Friends

2) The success of The Wong Side of Life, The Joy House Film festival

and that my short film, Colour of Change – selected for film festivals,

(which means my life messages – of “joy” and “not judging people unless

you’ve walked in their shoes” & importance of diversity – will continue to spread.

3) Being able to help / contribute to charities I support – The Cancer Council

& Mission Australia.

4) Being continuously creative

5) selected for the City of Sydney’s “Crossing Boundaries” show for 2014

6) making new friends.

7) being part of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance’s Diversity Committee.

8) The privilege to have a lorikeet lay an egg on my balcony.

I’ve never had a pet before, so it was an amazing experience.

I’ll miss Little Don. My Christmas wish would be for him to

fly and visit me. That would be the best gift. Then I’d know

he’d be ok.


Christmas is also a difficult time for some people, as they may not be in good

health or they may have lost love ones and therefore it may be a time of

loneliness. It’s important to be mindful of these people and try to help in

a small way.


Every year I give books to my local Children’s hospital and give Christmas

left overs or my clothes to the homeless – a small gesture of kindness can

mean so much to people.





Pinterest www.lovethispic.com




Pinterest www.rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com





Moje Wypieki, indulgy.com, http://www.lovethispic.com/image/48714/diy-food-christmas-trees,

chickabug.com, http://rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com.au/ ,  Newfoundland Memories Of Home’s Page ,



tree/, http://www.etsy.com/, http://craftori.com/,

http://etsylush.com/, https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-




Joy Hopwood on the meaning of Abundance

Joy Hopwood

Joy Hopwood is an actor, writer, director and curator, and a great pal of mine. She rose to prominence as the first ever Asian-Australian to be a Play School presenter back in the 90s. I asked Joy what abundance meant to her, and here’s what she had to say:

When you look up the dictionary meaning of “abundance” it says: “A very large quantity of” (noun) or “plenty, affluence, wealth.” (synonyms).

And when I ask random people what “abundance” means to them, many of them reply: “It means having a lot of money!”

But to me “abundance” has less to do with external things like money and fame, and more to do with inner abundance. Like having an abundance of creativity or inner joy.

Every day I like to try to write in my grateful journal the things I’m happy about. The more things I can write about, the happier I am. I feel abundance in my life. Examples of some things I’ve written lately are:

  • 19/7/2013 “My friend Jennifer did a great comedy performance, handling hecklers well. She received flowers from a wonderful, kind fan. “
  • 27/ 7/2013 “My friend Maria produced a fantastic film Change of Our Lives which she acted and wrote. I’m so proud of her achievements.”
  • 28/7/ 2013 “Today I baked a cake and I controlled myself and only ate half of it.”

Personal achievements, along with those of my friends,  give me great joy and happiness. This equals abundance to me.

I’m extremely happy and feel abundance in creativity when I’m on a writing roll or creating an art piece.

When I’m really down, which happens sometimes when I miss my mother, who passed away from bowel cancer, or when friends let me down, I go to my JOY “abundance” box.

Joy’s Abundance box

It is a small box filled with handwritten “pick me up” activities. I put my hand in the box and pick out one JOY activity. Examples include:

  • Play 15 mins of a DVD of my mum
  • Put a green mask on my face
  • Bake something
  • Go to an art gallery for an hour

These are just a few examples.

To me, abundance is always being able to create JOY in my life and also being able to spread that JOY to others. And I feel I have a lot to give. This year I’ve started the Joy House Film Festival, which features short films dealing with the theme of JOY. My purpose is to recognize emerging filmmakers, especially young, multicultural and indigenous film makers; giving them a voice. I hope this will be a free yearly event to share JOY and abundance with everyone. Also I try to find something positive to say to someone I don’t know. A few weeks ago I told an elderly lady that I loved her colourful rainbow beanie and she said that she hadn’t had a compliment for over 40 years, since when her husband was alive.

Therefore abundance is something I can give because I have plenty of JOY to share and it’s something that has great inner meaning to me; great abundance in creativity and happiness.


– See more at: http://www.waltermason.com/2013/07/joy-hopwood-on-meaning-of-abundance.html#sthash.Pf2yURZr.dpuf

“The Wong Side of Life” Blog by Walter Mason

Joy Hopwood on inspiration, acting and positive friendships

Actor and author Joy Hopwood

Joy Hopwood is best known to Australians as one of our most beloved Play School presenters. She was, in fact, the first Asian presenter on that legendary show, and one of the pioneers in champtioning diversity in popular Australian culture.
This month, Joy is presenting a brand new play, The Wong Side of Life, as a fundraising effort for the Cancer Council. It is a totally original production that features actors and puppets dealing with sensitive issues like race, bullying, death and illness. You can book tickets for this show (presented at The Concourse in Chatswood, Sydney) here.

I thought I’d ask her a few questions about life, luck and dreams:

Where do you see yourself in 5 year’s time?

I would have another book published and a television series.

Tell us about an inspiring book you’ve read lately.

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do. It’s an inspiring book by a great Australian comedian –Anh Do. He and his family came to Australia by boat and survived the journey. They started off with nothing and worked hard to survive. They never wanted any pity; they just worked hard in life, especially his mum. Anh was persistent and determined to follow his dream to become a comedian. They showed great resilience and gratitude to the opportunities this lucky country gave them. I love how people just get along with life and never feel sorry for themselves. His mother’s character reminds me of my mother’s attitude to life.

What inspired you to become an actor?

When I was on my final (drama teaching) prac in Western Australia, two children- an aboriginal boy and a Chinese girl – told me that they wanted to get into acting when they finish school, but they never saw anyone who looked like themselves on TV. They said, “Why should we even try?” I told them not to give up their dream and if I can be the first regular Asian presenter on Play School, then they can achieve their dream too. I just hope they saw me.

Joy Hopwood in Play School days

What are some tips you would give to someone wanting to build a career in a creative industry, be it acting, dance, art or writing?

To have patience and never give up their dream and to be prepared to work hard for their goals. I’ve had many knock backs; it took me 14 years to get my first piece published in Growing Up Asian in Australia, (edited by Alice Pung- Black Inc Books) and Chinese Australian Women’s Stories. Plus I had to audition twice for Play School.

Have you ever experienced a miracle?

I would say the miracles of life are the unexpected ‘random acts of kindness’ I experience day to day, which I record in my grateful journal.

The Cast of The Wong Side of Life

What are you most grateful for in life right now?

I’m grateful for the friends I have and the people I work with who have a sense of ‘community’ and ‘gratefulness’ within and who never complain or are negative….I tend to have positive friends and I like to work with positive people who don’t have egos.


The Wong Side of Life


“The Wong Side of Life” is a charity play for The Cancer Council.

This is my gift for the community. It’s a play about resilience and

friendship; it covers topics such as bullying, racism and cancer.


After the passing of my mother on October 15th, 2012 last year,

I wanted to write a play that comes from my heart, a play that

has hidden life messages which can open people’s minds.

This play is semi-autobiographical.


It’s an Australian drama-comedy musical premiere, set in the future – 2101.

The Wong Side of Life, has puppets and actors playing alongside each

other in this beautiful love story. It has a futuristic theme. Gone are

the days where people used to travel by buses, cars, trains

and planes as people now travel by supersonic jet packs!


This love story is about two people, Lin Wong and Reece Hart,

who hail from two very different worlds. Lin lives in Sunnyside,

your average working-class suburb whereas Reece

comes from a showbiz family and is a comedian! He and his mother,

Marie Manchester, live in the exclusive suburb of Moonside. Reece’s

mother is totally against their relationship as Lin comes from the

“wrong side”. It is not until Lin’s father, Dr Wong, moves their family

to China, due to his work that Marie’s perception on life changes,

as she is diagnosed with cancer. She realises that the only time we

should ever look down on a person, is to hold out our hand to help

them up and that she had been wrong about life.


I’ve put all my finances on the line for this and my sponsors
Buttar Cauldwell and Co. Solicitors, The Cupcake Princess &
Bowel Cancer Australia (who gave me a community grant)
have taken a risk on me too.
I hope the hidden life messages about bullying, racism and
cancer will be well received.


The Concourse, Chatswood, NSW

Mon 25 Mar 2013 7:30PM


Ticket pricing at:
The Concourse, Chatswood, NSW on
Mon 25 Mar 2013 7:30PM

View Venue Map

Categories Price Range
A Reserve $22.50 – $90.00

Daffodil Day 2012



This year started off to be challenging for me, coping with the death of my

mother, who passed away on 15th October 2011 from bowel cancer and

secondary liver cancer. I admit I do have a little cry each day,

but what keeps my spirit alive is having a purpose in life, this year being an

Ambassador for the Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day.



Booking a holiday to New York was the best medicine for me, it was a

temporary escape. The city that never sleeps inspired me with its art and

Broadway shows, so much so that I bought a note book and

couldn’t stop drawing ideas for artworks and wrote a play called, “The Wong

Side of Life.” I wanted one of the characters to have cancer (like my mother) but

also to be a racist, so the theme of the play would be of cancer and racism and

to add light in the story, I’ve included upbeat music, puppets and actors. I then

couldn’t wait to get back to Sydney to finish writing the play. I thought that this

play could be a “charity” play and I could donate a percentage to the Cancer

Council. After I had finished writing my play, I then showed it to The Cancer

Council. They loved the idea so much that asked me to be an Ambassador for

their Daffodil Day 2102. I was so happy that my play would have a purpose and

that I had the opportunity to go out into the schools and talk to school children

about cancer and the importance of looking after yourself, like eating healthy

food, exercising regularly and being sun smart. It was great to visit schools from

different social-economic backgrounds and I loved each and every one. For

example, I loved how La Perouse Public school has a fruit and vegetable garden,

which the children look after and eat from each day.


I was also touched to be part of a special school assembly at Belrose Public

School and I was impressed that Kambala girls’ school has “charity” prefects that

have a committee which chooses the charities the girls are moved by and  want

to be part of each year.


So on Friday 24th August, I hope everyone can pay forward the hope for a

cancer free future by buying a bunch of daffodils, or buy a Dougal bear, or

donate – www.daffodilday.com.au and support the Cancer Council’s Daffodil

Day. Funds raised will go towards cancer research, prevention and information

and support services. Together we can make this world a better place and

hopefully a cancer free future.


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