My Latest Tweet


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....