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Pay Attention To Per Unit Pricing

Sometimes you don`t even need a calculator.

I was at Superstore the other day looking at No Name peanut butter, and noticed that the smaller size was actually the better deal:

2 kg = $6.27

1 kg = $2.97 (x 2 = $5.94)

Alrighty then... 1 kg tubs it is!!
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Three Ways To Save On Mortgage Interest

There are three easy ways to shave off some interest from your mortgage.

Because mortgages typically have a long amortization period, the interest really adds up. In the end, depending on the length of your mortgage and the interest rates, you may end up paying as much, if not more, in interest than the original mortgage amount.

Here are three simple things you can do to significantly reduce the amount of interest you will pay:

1) Principal only payments. Every financial institution has rules about how these can be applied (for example, there are minimum and maximum amounts, as well as yearly frequencies). A friend of mine recently put $3,500 towards her mortgage principal, and saved considerably more than that in interest.

2) Shorten your amortization period. Use this calculator to see what I mean.

3) Pay more frequently. If you are paying monthly, consider bi-weekly or even weekly. The sooner you can reduce the principal, the sooner the amount that the interest is calculated on is lowered.

Remember that interest is how banks make money - whatever you can do to reduce the interest you pay puts some of that money back in your pocket.
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Save On Hydro Bills With Fan Timers

Here's an idea that I hadn't even considered until my husband had these installed in our bathrooms: fan timers.

We have the Leviton 5-10-15-30 Minute Timer shown in the link. It's beneficial because it prevents you from forgetting to turn the fan off. You can choose the fan duration according to your specific requirements - for example, for a shower I use the full thirty minute setting.

Prior to installing the fans and timers, we would leave the windows open to provide air circulation, which resulted in heat loss. Now we can maintain the room temperature while still circulating the air, and save money by not wasting fan use.
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Saving Money On Christmas Cards

This falls under the category of "buy off season".

I just got out of storage my box of blank Christmas cards, to find two boxes of beautiful, new gold foil embellished cards, bought at half price a day or two after Christmas last year (regularly $16 per box, marked down to $8).

I'll use these ones this year, and you guessed it... buy more a day or two after Christmas this year...
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Old Navy Online Sale

Here's a link to an area of Old Navy's website, where you can browse for gifts by categories:

You can then specify your search further by price, where the items shown appear to have been marked down. There are also pages that say sweaters are 40% off this weekend.

Happy shopping!
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At The Mall Today...

I was at the mall today and lucked into a sale at The Children's Place - everything in the store was 30% off. I signed up for their store card and got an additional 10% off, for a total discount of 40%. Not bad. I bought some clothes for the kids for Christmas.

I then went to Old Navy where they were having at 50% sale - but on only some of the items. I found a pair of pants that I liked for my daughter, but they weren't marked down. I thought I'd ask anyway, and made a firm decision to not purchase them if they weren't marked down.

I asked the cashier (who overheard me tell my friend I wasn't going to buy them unless they were marked down) and she told me that they had a "promo discount" of 25%. Hmmm. I bought them, all the while wondering if the discount would have been applied if I hadn't asked about it...
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It Pays To Compare Prices

I'm lucky I'm a numbers nerd (lol). A lot of people, my hubby included, don't have the time or patience to calculate and compare per unit pricing.

Today I went to Shopper's Drug Mart, specifically for a couple of their "limit 4" sales items. Any time a store has a quantity limit, it's usually a good price, designed to get you in the door. If you can leave with only four of the "limit 4" items, you're bound to come out ahead.

Today's Shopper's "limit 4" sale was on toilet paper. I bought my four packs of 12 rolls for $3.99/pkg., and went fleeing for the exits, ignoring all the pretty Christmas displays... (!!! Ahh!!! Christmas shopping :-)

I got home and did the math, and sure enough:

Shoppers: $3.99 for 12 2ply rolls (352 sheets, ttl 4224) = $0.000944 per sheet
: $19.89 for 36 2ply rolls (425 sheets, ttl 15,300) = $0.0013 per sheet

Good to know...
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Photo Calendar Sale

I usually order photo calendars every year as Christmas gifts, and the best price I've found so far was $14.99 each.

Until this year that is: Staples Copy and Print is having a "buy one get one free" sale. That means their highest price calendar, the "deluxe", which is regularly $20, is now $10 (if you buy two of course). This promotion ends November 28th.

The net results of that is this year I was able to get one MORE calendar than I got last year, at HALF the price that I paid last year.

Works for me!
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Tackling Credit Card Debt

Here's a tried and true method for dealing with credit card debt that many have had success with. I thought I'd review it here for anyone who hasn't heard of this method or tried it themselves yet:

1) Pay the minimum on all your cards except for the one with the highest interest; on that one pay as much as you can.

2) Once that highest interest card is paid off, take that money that you were paying on it and apply it to your card with the next highest rate.

3) Continue on down until all the cards are paid.

This is assuming, of course, that you're not charging more on the cards than you're paying... if you're not, then it's an organized, sure fire way of definitely paying them all off.
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Organizing Coupons

One of the deterrents I faced to actually using the coupons I had so meticulously clipped was the fact that I could never find the ones I needed while in the store. I finally came up with a simple system that works for me:

  1. Sort coupons into piles by BRAND
  2. Paper clip each pile
  3. Put the piles in an order that works for you (alphabetically, by product type) and store them in a zip loc bag in your purse.
Voila! If you see Tide on sale, you flip through the clips until you get to your Tide coupons. I tried clipping by product type but found it faster to clip by brand, because by brand is usually how the coupons are redeemed.

For those of you who are interested in a more sophisticated system, there is a neat product called The Couponizer, featured in this post at

Happy shopping!


Saving Money On Cat Litter

We ran out one day, so as a temporary measure I lined the box with newspaper (we get four free local papers and TONS of fliers every week).

I haven't looked back. I would never have tried it in the first place because I thought that cats need to bury their waste, so why would they use the newspaper? They still try to bury it (my cat is forever pawing at the newsprint, wondering why it won't cover her, um, deposit). As long as the paper is in the box that they associate with litter, it's all the same to them.

The nice thing is, because they can't bury it, you're motivated to change it more frequently. Some people may see this as a disadvantage, however I find it easier to pick up and dispose of the paper rather than scoop around digging for stuff (it's less messy too, and you'd wash your hands either way anyway).

The drawback is that you can't recycle the newspaper once it's been used, but how environmentally friendly is cat litter anyway?


The Danger Signs by Suze Orman

I'm watching The Suze Orman show and she just finished covering 6 warning signs of impending financial ruin, i.e. "the point of no return". I flipped open my laptop and started madly typing as she spoke. Here's what she said:

You are approaching the point of no return if the following is true:

1) You owe money on a credit card(s) with balances increasing every month, and you are only able to pay the minimum.

2) You need to take a loan from a retirement plan or mortgage to pay your credit card or living expenses.

3) You purchase necessities (food, for example) using credit cards.

4) You are living on cash advances.

5) You are falling behind on bills.

6) You can no longer afford life or health insurance.

(Phew... I don't feel so bad ;-)

10 Things To Try Using Less Of

Why not? You may be using more than you need. It's worth a try anyway...

1) Shampoo

2) Conditioner

3) Paper towels

4) Dishwasher detergent

5) Laundry detergent

6) Fabric softener

7) Juice (add some water - dentists recommend this anyway)

8) Ground beef (try cutting back in recipes: when you purchase it, instead of buying by the pound, buy three pounds and divide that into four portions. Then use one of those portions where a recipe would call for a full pound).

9) Cream in your coffee. (seriously??!! Yes, Jeanne, just try it ;-)

10) Toilet paper. I remember when I was a child my Dad would ask me to run and get some TP so he could clean his glasses: "But only ONE square, OK? I don't need more than that. Just one."


15 Ways To Save Money On Kids' Clothes

Here are some ideas for saving money on kids clothes:

1) Hand me downs.

2) Thrift stores.

3) Buy some neutral, unisex pieces.

4) If your daughter is slender like mine, some of last years' pants (depending on the cut and style) can work as this year's Capri's.

5) Cold water wash and hang to dry items that aren't as dirty, to reduce wear and tear on the fabric.

6) Buy items too large so you can get use out of them longer.

7) Swap meets.

8) Ask for clothes as gifts (luckily both my kids love receiving clothes so they never wish they'd gotten a toy instead).

9) Browse through clearance racks and buy high value items even if they're too big. For example my son at the moment is wearing an adorable blue football sweater that I bought new from a Zellers clearance rack when I was still pregnant with him. Hanging in his closet are larger items, bought new on clearance, that he'll grow into.

10) Sell the stuff you can no longer use, if you don't have anyone to exchange or hand me down to. I know people who have made some spare change selling their kids' too small items on
websites such as eBay, Craigslist, and in garage sales.

11) Shop at garage sales.

12) If you've purchased something full price from stores such as Old Navy or The Gap, check afterwards to see if that item has gone on sale. Bring in your receipt for a partial refund.

13) Buy off season. This October I bought my daughter a skirt at Wal Mart (from the last of their summer items) that was regularly $12 and had been marked down to $3.

14) Keep track of sales.

15) Take advantage of programs such as Sears' KidVantage.


Sport Mart Sale

If you need higher end sports shoes (my poor feet have been feeling the "cheap shoes woes" with all the high volume walking I do), Sport Mart quite often has "buy one get the second half price" for their footwear. Today my husband and I each got a new pair with this discount.



Circuit City Tip

Here is an interesting tidbit for Circuit City shoppers... I read this warning on about Circuit City price tag strategies.

Apparently they have a policy about keeping the price tags the same at every store, so if a certain store wants to raise the price, they don't tag the item, and then raise the price, then apply a "discount". In reality the customer may be paying the regular price or even a higher one.

8 Tips For Saving Money On Food

Saving money on food is something we can all do. Here are some ideas that we've done in our home:

1) Grow your own spices (SO easy, and so delicious fresh :-)

2) Never buy ANYTHING already prepared. Grate your own cheese, for example.

3) Portion control! Start noticing how much food gets disposed of - in the trash, compost, to the dog, etc., and gradually scale back the amount you serve accordingly.

4) Try generics. It's true that some name brands are better (i.e. you get what you pay for), but many are no different and you won't know unless you try. Buy the smallest size of a generic brand to try it out, to minimize waste if you don't like it.

5) Mix generics and brand names to make the expensive kind last longer. Peanut butter is a good example - my daughter loves Kraft and isn't as fond of the cheaper Presidents Choice, but when I mix them together she doesn't notice.

6) Cook with less meat. There are excellent sources of meatless protein that are more cost effective.

7) Use coupons for items that are already on sale.

8) Invest in a bread machine. Easy, yummy, nutritious, and cost effective... what more can you want?

6 Saving Money Tips For Parents

Here are some saving money ideas for parents:

1) Limit your kids' exposure to television ads. I have noticed that as soon as I switch away from Treehouse (which has no commercials) to another children's station and my daughter is inundated with toy ads, she starts asking for stuff. Her birthday list now has "Bratz" instead of "a doll". (If you're the kind of parent who has no trouble saying "NO" again and again and again and again and again, you can disregard this tip ;-).

2) Buy clothes too large out of season when they're on sale. I have a portion of each child's closet that has new clothes, several sizes too big, bought brand new on clearance (such as $2 for a shirt).

3) Shop in thrift stores. This is key: don't go in when you need a particular item - instead make it a weekly routine to stop in and browse for new arrivals. Be prepared to leave empty handed. The more you go in, the more you're likely to find items that look new, and if you're selective about what you buy, you can get nice things for a fraction of the cost.

4) Plan ahead. A friend was telling me that she just (on Nov 3) bought next year's Halloween costumes for her two kids - they were marked down to half price.

5) Have your kids make festive decorations instead of buying them. my daughter had lots of fun drawing and cutting out Jack-o-lanterns for our window for Halloween, and she's looking forward to Christmas decorating projects.

6) On the do-it-yourself note, my daughter also loves to make birthday cards. I've noticed that many of her friends exchange home-made cards at birthday parties.


Nickel And Dime

I came across this story in my money saving web surfing, and just thought I'd pass along the link:

"A Nickel And Dime Budget " -

What moved me about this story was the extreme degree of this woman's poverty, and her struggle to support herself and her 12 year old daughter (it made me appreciate how lucky I am!). The way that she is able to sustain herself and her daughter on her meagre income is eye opening, to say the least.


Saving Money By Catching Scanning Errors

Did you know that you can save money by catching scanning errors at participating retailers?

The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code is a policy that gives you an item for free if it's scanned incorrectly and it costs under $10, or gives you an adjustment if that incorrectly scanned item costs more than $10.

Participating retailers include Wal-mart, London Drugs, and Save On Foods. You may have to involve a manager because there may be new cashiers who are unfamiliar with the policy, but if you are willing to do so, you can save a few dollars.

Here is a link with more information on the policy, and another link as well.

Happy scanning!


6 Tips For Saving Money On Halloween

Trick or treat!!!

Here's some saving money ideas for Halloween:

1) Gender neutral, slightly too big, costumes. Not always possible for the picky kids who want something different each year or who want something gender specific, but for us it works. My daughter is wearing her pumpkin jacket for the fourth year (her choice). When she was almost two, I had to roll up the sleeves and the jacket came down to her knees, and now that she's almost six, it fits her properly.

2) Re-usable candy carriers. One year my Hubby splurged and bought them plastic pumpkin buckets with handles which at the time I thought was extravagant, but now I appreciate. They use them every year and store the candy in them in the cupboard as well.

3) Stop by the store on the afternoon of the 31st and see if they mark the candy down. You wouldn't want to buy next year's that far in advance, but you can wait until last minute for next year, if they do discount the price to try and get rid of it all.

4) Or... buy your candy early instead of when everyone else does.

5) Don't buy too much candy. We're usually guilty of this one - no one wants to run out. We tend to go overboard though, and it ends up on my hips ;-)
6) Take care of your stuff. I just spend a few minutes this evening taking out batteries from flashing skulls and lit up plastic pumpkins so that I could store them for next year without fear of corrosion.


Saving Money By Using Fewer Paper Towels

Not sure where to put this comment - in this blog, or my Green blog, lol.

I am a big believer in the idea that little things add up. My latest saving money task will be to reduce the number of paper towels we use.

I was tidying the basement kitchen the other day and discovered a bunch of new J-cloths I had that I'd forgotten about. They're now in my upstairs kitchen, and I'll use them more and the paper towels less.

Gotta run - I have to get the kids up for school.

Happy saving, everyone!!



Make Money By Writing Articles

I found this today:

Apparently on eHow you can sign up to be paid for articles you write.

Except (arrrgh! sigh), this is only available to US residents at the moment. I'm assuming it's because of tax implications. Us Canadians are out of luck. Oh well, maybe they'll set up a "foreign division", or something, lol.

Meanwhile, has anyone out there had any experience with writing for them and being paid?


Getting Coupons In The Mail (Canada)

Here's a link:

I love this website - you don't need to register - you simply click on the coupons you want, enter a valid mailing address, and they send you the coupons in the mail.

There is a limit to the quantity, I've discovered: if you go back in too soon and ask for the same coupons, they'll tell you to wait a certain number of days before requesting them again.

I love the fact that it doesn't cost anything to get them (i.e. no printing expense on your PC). It's easy, convenient, and frugal!

Are Cats Affordable Pets?

Any animal you bring into your house is going to cost some money, although the benefits of companionship among other things often time make it worthwhile.

If you're looking for an affordable pet and are considering a cat, I have some advice to pass along from personal experience:

1) Get a female. Now before you say "but spaying costs more than neutering", consider the fact that this is a one time cost, and the difference in price is not that much. However, if your male cat is unlucky enough to contract FUS, look out. Cha-ching cha-ching. We've sunk about $1,500 so far into keeping our male alive.

2) Make sure the cat you choose has a tail. Little know fact (at least it was little known to me): the nerves associated with bladder and bowel control are very low in the spine and close to the tail. We adopted a Manx and couldn't figure out why she peed everywhere and dropped pieces of fecal matter in the most inappropriate places. Turns out that Manx (stub tails) have control issues because they don't have complete tails. In fact because of this, there are regulations in place that prevent Manx breeders from breeding too many successive generations of tail-less cats.

Anyway, no tail = bathroom issues = $$$ spent on clean up. Ugh.

3) Litter tip: get cedar pellets. Wonderful stuff. A bag lasts an entire year because the cedar completely absorbs the smell; all you do is scoop out the poop. Safe for your dog as well; if you have a dog with the nasty habit of dining in the cat box, the cedar litter won't obstruct his bowel the way that clay based clumping littler will, resulting in fewer vet bills.

Have fun!


Oprah and Kindle

I want one of these!!!!

The Kindle wireless reading device, featured recently on the Oprah show, could be the answer to my "books cost a fortune" woes.

Granted it currently costs $359 to purchase, but down loadable books are $9.99 or less. Anyone who's ever cringed at the $40+ price of a hardcover will recognize the bargain here. For the occasional reader this may be a costly gadget, but for the avid bookworm, this tool has great potential.

Not only is it cost effective in the long term, but it also saves space and trees. Convenient, green, and frugal! Gotta love it.


Saving Money On Hydro

Finally.... some results from all my unplugging and switching off and turning down and and and... you get the picture.

We have an equal payment plan with BC Hydro which enables us to more effectively budget our electricity costs from month to month. They estimate your monthly cost based on previous consumption and bill you accordingly. October is the yearly anniversary month, when they tally up where you stand.

If you've consumed more than you've been billed, you get a larger bill. However if you consume less, you get a smaller bill or a credit.

In the past we've gotten credits in October, but never close to this year: $400.52!! In addition to this, they've adjusted our monthly billing rate from $148 to $107. The net result of this is that we will get almost 4 months of "free" hydro (actually pre-paid), just as we're heading into the expensive holiday season.


5 Spouse Spending Strategies - What To Do When Your Spouse Spends Too Much Money

Does your spouse spend too much money?

It's not uncommon for partners in a relationship to have different financial values. An interesting dynamic tends to develop between spenders and savers: their behaviours are reinforced by each other. For example, as the savers try to squirrel away money, the spenders feel controlled and try and defend against this by spending more. Meanwhile the savers feel panicked and try and save even more.

If you're the saver and your spouse is the spender, the trick is to not cast a negative light on his or her behaviour. This will only make your spouse defensive and make the problem worse. But what can you do if your pleas for reason won't be heard? You can't, after all, control what another person thinks or does.

There are a few little things you can do to make the situation a little better:

1. Spenders often have little concept of how small items add up. Tell your spouse, in a non-threatening way, that you want to try and improve the family finances a bit, and does he/she have any idea of ways to cut back? Then show your spouse a summary of ALL monthly expenses, fixed and otherwise. Seeing that total might be the wake up call your spouse needs.

2. Look for other costs to cut back on instead: turn lights off more, turn the heat down more, turn the hot water tank down a bit, pack lunches for work, bring coffee in a thermos instead of buying it, among many others.

3. Set up an automatic transfer to savings, and count this in with your fixed expenses.

4. Take over household chores that are related to spending, such as groceries. My husband is a big name brand fan, so when he shops the bills are always higher. When I shop I always give generics a chance, and more often than not he doesn't notice.

5. Make lifestyle changes that can reduce spending. I always used to call my husband mid-day at work and ask what he wanted for dinner. He never knew, and would say "don't worry about it". Then he'd get home and we'd order take out. One day I decided to "take the bull by the horns" and decide for him. I now do menu planning and make 95% of our meals without asking for his input (which suits him fine), so we rarely ever order in anymore.


Blend and Extend

My current question is whether or not to blend and extend our mortgage. It's usually done if interest rates go down, and mortgage holders want to capitalize on lower rates.

At the moment our rate (5.75%, one year left) is lower than the average posted rates, but will these rates go up further as banks try to recoup losses with higher interest rates? OR... will rates go down as prime rate has, in an effort to stimulate the economy?

Is anyone out there contemplating the same dilemma? Any thoughts?


Energy Star Rebates

If you're planning on saving money with one of the energy rebates that are available, make sure you fully understand the rules for each rebate in order to qualify.

For example, Energy Star requires that a home energy assessment be done before the improvements are made; if you wait until the work is done, you may not qualify to get any money back.

Good luck :-)


Customer Service Discounts

This may be old news for some people, but I'd like to share an experience I had at Zellers recently...

I bought something that I thought was on sale (55% off). When I got to the parking lot and reviewed the receipt, I noticed I hadn't gotten the discount. I went back to customer service and was told that the item in question was not actually included in the sale. The customer service cashier said to me:

"Would you like to return it, or do you still wish to purchase it? The best that I can give you is 25% off."


Me: "Well... hmmm. Ok, I guess, thank you, I'll take the 25% off."

I am wondering now, if I'd caught the mistake at the cashier instead of going to customer service afterwards, would she have been able to offer me the 25% discount? Would it have been full price, or not purchase?

I'm thinking that (assuming you have the time) that instead of checking items as they are scanned at the till for sales discounts, you're better off waiting until transaction is paid for and closed, and then going to customer service with any discrepancies.

Has anyone out there had a similar experience, or any insight to share?



5 Saving Money Tips We Already Follow

1) Packing lunches. Hubby or I will make a big batch of something (i.e. chili, stew, lasagna), then freeze lunch-sized portions. I use packing tape (easy to label with a Sharpie and easy to remove later) to label the Tupperware lids. We have a fridge sized stand up freezer that we keep full (what a good investment that was).

2) Pay our mortgage every two weeks. I forget the numbers now, but those extra two payments per year (as opposed to the 24 you'd get with paying on the 15th and 30th) shave years and thousands of dollars in interest off the total mortgage.

3) Light and heat control. We have a programmable thermostat that we use to regulate our heat consumption, and I am the "Lights Warden"!! LOL. A tip for fluorescent lights though - supposedly they consume the same amount of energy to power up as they do to illuminate for :15, so if you're leave the room for less time than that, you're better off leaving them on.

4) Use high interest bank accounts for money that you keep aside for bills. These accounts usually have high transaction service charges so you wouldn't want to pay bills directly out of them, but many of them offer free on-line transfers to other accounts. I have three high interest accounts that I currently use, and make about $8/month in interest. Not a huge amount, but hey - it's free money ;-)

5) Buy used kids clothing. We have an awesome thrift store that is walking distance from our house. If you take the time to look, you can find new looking, popular label clothing (Old Navy, GAP, Children's Place, etc) for a fraction of the cost. Kids grow so quickly that often times this clothing has barely been worn.

Speaking of kids... it's time to wake them up for school! 'Bye for now...


5 $$$ Things I Am Thankful For

In keeping with today's Thanksgiving theme, here's my "Saving Money Blog" list:

I am thankful for:

1) Shopping!!!

(oops. start over ;-)

1) High interest savings accounts. This beats the 0% rate in my chequing account any day!!

2) Coupons (I use them for items that are already on sale to increase the savings).

3) Room in my house to store items bought on sale (I try and stock up so I don't have to buy items full price).

4) The fact that my hubby quit smoking :-) :-) That's about $300/month savings right there.

5) Room in my house to hang clothes to dry, and having the time to do it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


First Post

Welcome to my new blog!! This is me trying to improve my finances, and using blogging as a tool to learn and be focused (and it gives me something to do other than shop ;-)

More on this blog later....