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Lateral thinking is a bargain hunter's best friend. Ruminating on any problem usually results in a cheaper solution.

Last year, my daughter started pleading for a $400 sheepskin wool rug for her bedroom.

After a few weeks of musing (by me) and badgering (by her), a true Changing Rooms solution emerged. The old Woolrest sleeper from the spare bed was hauled off and repurposed as a sheepskin rug, to the delight of Miss who thought I'd bought the real thing.

Another problem in need of a lateral approach presented itself this month when the young lady's brother lost the third stud from his boots this season.

Replacement studs only cost $1.80, which is hardly going to break the bank, although the $5 petrol and the value of my time need to be added to that.

There was no time to drive to Stirling Sports before the Midgets ran out for their next game and Mr Grumpy informed me wasn't playing unless he got a new stud.

The answer was to pick up a pair of Nike boots from the Devonport Children's Op Shop and remove the studs. Hey presto. I got one replacement stud, 11 spares, and a good pair of laces for $2 and five minutes of my time.

Another Bargain Betty moment occurred in Mitre 10 Mega a fortnight ago. I decided to pull in to solve a dilemma caused by the other two small beings that make up my household. Free-range guinea pigs Ginny and Lily salivate at the sight of my herb garden and had eaten every last shoot to the ground.

Our two furry friends will only stick around as long as the children look after them so spending a fortune on fencing the herbs seemed like a waste of money.

The answer, thought the helpful staff member at Mitre 10 Mega, was to surround the herbs with plastic trellis. It certainly would have done the trick. But I needed six metres of the stuff unless I was willing to put up with a join, which came to a grand total of $54 - an expensive way to accommodate two passing rodents, in my view.

Vexed, I decided to wander the store for an alternative. There in the middle of the guttering aisle was the answer. Nylex Guinea Pig Guard (AKA Nylex Gutter Guard). It was exactly the right height to keep a pair of hungry guinea pigs at bay and at $6.97 for a whole eight metres the word "bargain" was an understatement.

The moral is that there is almost always a cheaper way if you're willing take a sideways look at the problem.