Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Shopping on the Cheap

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

I’ve been saving up and bookmarking all sorts of cheap online shopping places. Part of it is so I can start to ‘think’ about what I might need for a little baby one day, and others are just because I love to find amazing deals when I am shopping for new things.

For the most part I shop vintage and used. Two reasons: I hate the packaging that new things come in (think for example all those boxes and styrofoam electronics are packed in!); and, I want to keep stuff out of the landfill. The third and most selfish reason is because it is often cheaper. Frugal, frugal!

But sometimes a new item is just a pure act of spoiling. And everyone deserves spoiling sometimes. If I do buy new, it is often online, on sale, and with free or cheap shipping.

Here are some places I’ve kept an eye on in the last few months:

Beyond the Rack: think Winners, but ONLINE! You need to sign up to get the bargains.

Zappos: shoes out the wazoo! Very good deals on sale items, some really good brand names. I like to get my runners here and cute summer sandals when I need them. They ship to Canada for $10USD flat rate so buddy up and combine your orders!

Baby Half Off: Daily deals!

Green Baby Bargains: for eco-friendly baby stuff!

Mama Bargains: More than one deal a day, so check often! Looking for something in particular? You can suggest it to them!

Baby Steals: great finds on this one, you just need to act fast as its popular!

Eating ‘Clean’ and Frugality

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2010 at 8:00 am

We are trying out a new fad around our house: eating clean. We tossed the idea around of trying a detox, but they seem just a bit too extreme for us. Our bodies are made to cleanse themselves of toxins, I’m not sure I need to drink only cayenne pepper and maple syrup in water to help that along!

From the Eat Clean Diet website:

Eating Clean is eating the way nature intended. You eat the foods our bodies evolved to function best on, and that makes you feel – and look – fantastic. When you Eat Clean you eat more often. You will eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. These practices keep your blood-sugar levels stable and keep you satisfied. The best part is that if you need to lose weight it will happen almost without you having to try. And yes, you can have a treat now and again.

Best of all, Eating Clean keeps you feeling great and full of energy. In fact, you can forget all about the days when “dieting” meant feelings of hunger, lethargy or deprivation.

Eating Clean is not a fad; it’s a way of life. When you Eat Clean your body will react by losing weight if you need to lose, maintaining a healthy weight if that’s where you are, and even gaining weight if you are too skinny. But regardless of whether you want to lose, maintain or gain, you will feel better than you ever have before.

What I wonder is how cost effective this will be to our grocery bill? We don’t spend a lot on food because we are excellent shoppers and love to cook gourmet meals on a budget. I think we are successful at this. What I’m interested to see is how we’ll do with the prescription of foods offered by the Eat Clean Diet.

Has anyone tried this? Or does anyone follow it and have recommendations on what to keep in mind while we try it out?

Savings Update

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2010 at 8:00 am

I’ve got just a couple of savings accounts for short term goals. I’ve yet to start my RRSPs, I know, I know, so this is what I have so far. My savings sits as such:

Emergency Fund is at $579.37 of the $1,000 I would like to have set aside.

My Baby Fund (a new fund I started) sits at $155.87 of the $2,500 I’d like to have set aside.

My goals are to have the Emergency Fund maxed by April 2010.

The Baby Fund should be funded by January 2011 – its a slow process, with only $25 a month getting deposited automatically and extra money will be added as it comes in as gifts, refunds, etc.

The Baby Fund will be used for topping up my EI benefits while I’m on mat leave. I’ve calculated what I will need to have in addition to what EI brings in during my time off if/when we are expecting our little one. The reason I’ll be topping myself up will be to stay on track with my debt payments (both credit card and other) while off on leave.

If between now and then I happen to somehow land a fantastic job that will top me up, I will use the fund as an RRSP contribution. Until then, I need to have this amount fluid enough that it can be accessed for regular transfers into my chequing account for those 8-12 months off work. I’ve got it all calculated so I’ll add a picture of the spreadsheet soon.

Yearly Expenses

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2010 at 8:00 am

There are some infrequent items that are just hard to account for in your monthly budget. Things like your annual car registration, birthdays, Christmas, annual vet visits, car maintenance (oil changes and miscellaneous), clothing and hair aren’t monthly occurrences.

For 2010 I decided to contribute to an ‘Annual Expenses’ Fund monthly for these line items. Here’s what I have:

Whenever one of these budget items comes up, I pay for it out my normal chequing account and then reimburse myself with a transfer from savings out of this dedicated fund.

So far it is working well. I will adjust amounts as needed, but so far these ones are fitting the bill.

November Goals

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2009 at 10:49 am

I’ve got to post an update on my No Spend Month for October and where I failed to keep to those goals, or where I succeeded, but I’ll have to do that once I tally everything up. I just haven’t had enough free minutes to do it yet.

In the meantime, I thought I would post a few goals I have for this month. Most are financial, since I’m trying to keep this blog directed in that realm of my life.

November Financial Goals:

– Make 50% of my Christmas gifts by November 30th.
– Decrease debt by $1000.
– Come under budget this month.
– Save money into tax account for small business.

There are only four goals, but I think I can reach them all. I’ve included making my Christmas gifts under financial goals because it really is a financial goal for me. By making my Christmas gifts, I am keeping out of the malls and stores and will be saving overall on my Christmas spending. I’ve gotten a bit sentimental in the last little while and making everyone individualized gifts really means something to me. I want my loved ones to have something thoughtful and useful as their gift this year. This season is about giving, and for me it is about giving time to our loved ones as well. Being together and cherishing the memories will be my focus for Christmas this year instead of the material items. Handmade gifts will hopefully have more meaning to everyone on my list.

This post got a little sidetracked from ‘financial goals’ to ‘Christmas’ but hey, there are only 50 days left!

New Computer

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Jenn at her Paying Myself is talking about getting a new computer. This reminded me I will be due for a new one soon too.

I’ve currently got an old Mac at home, and lurrrrrve it! But, the cost of a new Mac is simply out of my budget when you can get a perfectly good PC laptop for a LOT less. Like $700 less. $700 is a good chunk of change towards paying down debt. $700 is a lot of extra cash to save up just for a pretty Mac.

Especially when there are ideas around the interweb on how to run MacOSx on a PC! Yes. You heard right. Some snooping around found me these useful tidbits of info from Lifehacker:

Install OSX on your Hackintosh PC – No Hacking Required
Build a Hackintosh Mac for Under $800

Now, whether or not I do this is another question, but it is interesting.

Me, I’ll probably still get the Mac because I can use all my previously purchased Mac software on it. But will I buy it brand spanking new? Likely not.

Menu Planning

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

Menu Planning – it seems to be a popular thing to do. Do you do it? I don’t.

But maybe I should start?

The few things I would need to overcome:

1. Our schedules are not regular. Like, at all. Hubby is away several days a week. We are often not at home on the weekends on sporadic events at friends places, etc, usually only planned at the last minute.

2. When hubby’s away, I rarely eat meat. But when he’s home, he works from home and will cook the meals, often on a ‘whatever-he-feels-like-having’ plan with frequent trips to the grocer with ‘pick-up-what-he’s-missing-for-his-meal’ lists.

I think it would be hard to follow any sort of ‘plan’ I make up on a weekly basis if hubby was throwing it all away when he decided he wanted to make a big roast on Thursday that week. What would I do with my fresh channa curry ingredients since we’d be out all weekend and not have a chance to make it? Would it all go to waste?

What works for you?

Maybe I will try it out for two weeks and see how things go. Maybe hubby will be convinced its a good idea once we get into the routine. I’m just afraid it will impeded his ‘creativity’ in the kitchen – he’s an AWESOME cook and I love when he whips us up an amazing dish. Mmmmm… hungry now!

A phenomenon in the blogosphere is ‘Menu Plan Monday‘. Every Monday I started to see posts titled Menu Plan Monday. I just thought everyone planned their menus for the week that day because the flyers came out and we knew what was on sale, or for some other unknown to me reason. I just did a search on my Swagbucks, and found out that I guess it is actually something that was organized by Laura at ‘I’m an Organizing Junkie‘. Here’s her menu plan for this week.

I’ll keep you posted on our Menu Planning progress. I’d love to hear how you plan out your weeks meals and grocery shopping. For our grocery shopping, we have a list we post on the fridge of our most commonly purchased items, organized in order by their appearance in the grocery store. When we notice we are out of an item, we check it off the list to make sure we pick it up next time we are out. It works really well for making sure we always have our staples in the house. Things like flour, eggs, butter, coffee…

Major Fail: My Car Loan

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm

One thing I haven’t addressed on this blog, and I think its because I’ve been focused on my credit card debt reduction plan, is my car loan.

Last year, I was just about finished paying off my previous car loan. The car was a 2002 sedan, and in great shape albeit minus a few things that went wrong frequently but nothing major – mostly just squeaks and vibrations. It did however have higher mileage on it since my job involved a lot of driving. On a whim, and really, it was a whim, I decided I wanted a new car.


Yes, insert all the reasons why this is so wrong here. And yes, insert the typical reason so many people are in debt here. Ugh. I’m a textbook case. Believe me.

It was my anger of my debt that started my search for a new car. I wanted to sell off the old one and buy an old clunker for cash. But, a shiny new car was just so much more appealing to my shallow, ‘money-doesn’t-matter’ side and since I hadn’t reached the stage where I HATED MY DEBT, it was easy to get convinced. My monthly payments would be the same! My mileage would be better in a newer, more efficient car! This one was more utilitarian because I could fit more in the trunk! … and so on with the excuses.

Now, I would give anything to go back and slap myself. What was I thinking?!?

My new (used) car loan is at an 8.9% interest rate! But I don’t know enough about car loans – can you even re-negotiate the rate? I just took what the dealer gave me (just to add to the MAJOR FAIL). My budget works for the payment, but I know I am overpaying in interest in the long run. It would be pretty sweet to not have that car payment and just be stuffing that cash into a high interest savings account for when my old clunker broke down. No such luck now.

Am I going to trade in the new shiny one? Unlikely. I really like having a reliable car. *sigh* But the question remains… SHOULD I?

Is this something I should think about once I’ve got my credit card debt under control? I just don’t know what to do about it. Sometimes it does keep me up at night.

Christmas Craft Ideas

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2009 at 8:00 am

I’ve been obsessed with crafty blogs lately. I will start adding the ones I follow to the sidebar for anyone that might be interested in what I read.

There are a ton of things on my ‘to-make’ list, especially since I decided to make this a Handmade Christmas. This means I am making ALL of the gifts I will be giving this year. As a result, everyone will be getting more thoughtful and heartfelt gifts. But since I am the ever-practical person, I can’t just make people ‘crap’. If I am making them a gift, it must be useful and appropriate for the receiver.

Here are some amazing and useful crafts I’ve got on my list so far:

Chequebook Covers

Camera Straps

Decorative Jars (for another gift I’m making, but won’t post it yet!)

Here are some I plan to make just for myself:
Renewed Filing Cabinet

And these are things I could make to have on hand for things like housewarming gifts and hostess gifts:
Crochet Dish Scrubbers

Cork Trivet

What are some of your thrifty craft ideas?

Winterize Your House to Save $$$

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2009 at 10:24 am

In our cold climate, most people winterize their homes without even thinking about it. But if you are consciously making the decision to make sure your heating costs are the most efficient, there are cost-efficient ways that can make sure this happens.

1) Thermostat Programming (FREE)
This is your easiest method to save heating costs and requires no manual labour. Program your thermostat to come on only during hours you are home. The rest of the time, set it low (you don’t want to turn it off – pipes freeze here in Canada!). We set ours to 16 when we are not around, or when we are sleeping and it comes on to 19 (Celsius of course) when we are home. The most important to remember is when you are away for the weekend or on vacation – set it down to a low temperature for the duration of your stay away.

2) Foam Insulation on your outlet covers ($5)
The next least labour intensive activity is to insulate your outlets! Drafts can come in through these holes in your drywall – if you have a place like ours, you can often feel the chill coming through on your outside walls. Buy some foam insulators from your hardware store (like this) take a screwdriver and put the insulator underneath the outlet cover. Easy peasy.

3) Drafty Windows No More ($15 for film, $3 for caulking)
If you have an older home, the windows can often be older too. Some of ours are single pane windows with wooden frames – now that’s old! There are two ways to tackle this: caulking (here) or plastic film (here). The best option is to update your windows, but lets be honest – not everyone can afford to do this in time for winter. Our solution until we have saved up our ‘new windows fund’ is to put the plastic film on them. It significantly decreases our heating bill and makes our place cozy!

4) Furnace Filters ($20 for 6)
We replace our furnace filters very frequently. This not only makes your furnace more efficient, but it keeps your air clean. We don’t invest in the expensive ones because neither of us have allergies, and we change them so frequently it makes sense to buy the ones that come in bulk at a better cost per filter. We buy these ones or whatever is on sale when we go. Once a month works well for us since we only have our furnace on from October through to April. We also make sure we have our furnace serviced once a year. It is an annual checkup and maintenance cleaning they do. It is $100 but it will catch any issues before the season starts, eliminating any need for emergency furnace repairs which are often very costly due to the urgency of the situations in our Canadian winters.

There are lots of other ways you can improve the heating efficiency in your home. Adding insulation, having new windows installed, using water heater blankets, and making draft stoppers (a great Christmas gift idea for you crafters) are all ways you can save even more energy.

The great thing about using the window film is it forces you to clean your windows inside and out before winter comes. The better to see the birdies at the birdfeeder, I say!