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Where Have All The High Interest Savings Accounts Gone?

Have a look at this link, which features a chart of some Canadian banks and their interest rates for their "high interest" savings. As I type this, the chart was last updated December 19, 2009 (it's December 22, 2009).

What's interesting is the history of each account, and how much the rates have fallen. When I opened a H.I. account at one of the banks listed, the rate was over 3%. Now, not so much.

Does this mean rates will go up from here? That's what I've heard! But when, and by how much? I'll guess we'll have to summon up even more patience and wait to see...

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Help Me Grow My Cha Ching Blog Roll

Hello money savers!!!

I just had a quick look at my blog roll on this blog and realized that it needs more links. If you know of a great finance blog that I should add, please let me know by leaving a comment and I'll check it out.

Thanks :)

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Boston Pizza - "Kids Eat Free All Summer Long"

We were at Boston Pizza the other night - they have a promotion on at the moment where kids eat free all summer.

We examined the bill at the end of the meal to see what this covered: sure enough, their meals cost $0.00, but FYI we were still charged for their drinks and desserts.

Still, it's a bit of a savings if Boston Pizza (which can be a bit pricey) is a place that you enjoy going :)

Just to note - I'm not sure if this promo is running franchise-wide or if it was only at the restaurant we went to, so you might want to call your location first before heading out there.

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Saving Money In Small Ways - My Latest Attempt

At one point I subscribed to our local papers, the Vancouver Sun and the Province, six days a week for both papers (it started with one of those free trial offers, and then I just started paying because I'm kind of a in-print reading junkie ;)

But hey, that's a whole lotta reading when you have two kids constantly climbing on you, so I cut back to the Sun six days, and the Province on one day, so that I'd at least get a paper every day.

That was fine for awhile, but I've noticed lately that the papers have been piling up. I have a problem tossing papers I've PAID for until I've read them, but it was to the point where I had to do just that (cringe).

So now I've cut back even further (drum roll): I'll be getting the Sun on Fridays and Saturdays only, with the Province being Sundays only. Less $$$ spent, and hopefully now I'll be able to actually read them, too!

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Grocery Lists And Nostalgia

I used to use a master list for Costco: I would print copies on my computer, and have one on the fridge, checking off items as we needed them. The list contained things that we had discovered were cheaper at Costco (because not everything is).

I'm not sure why I stopped using it - I think I may have been out of printer ink and got out of the habit of printing my list. In any case, I haven't used it in awhile, until today.

I found the list in my PC, and printed some new copies (using the "fast draft" low ink setting on my printer, of course ;) When I scanned the list to see how current it was, I found an item safe to delete: Pull Ups!!

(Awwww, my babies are growing up!!)

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Petcetera Liquidation

It's sad but true - Petcetera will be closing its stores and laying off employees.

The upside is that they will try and liquidate as much of their remaining inventory as possible before they close their doors. At the moment the stores remain open, so watch for the sales to begin soon...

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Adding A Blogroll

I love blog rolls - they're pretty handy. I am trying to refocus on all things financial, so I have added one to this blog: "More Money Blogs" on the right hand column. As I write this post I have only one blog listed, Boston Gal's Open Wallet, but I'm going to add as many as I can find that I feel inspired or enlightened by :) One of the reasons I started with Boston Gal's is because she has a pretty big blog roll on her blog, so it's a place for me to start reading.

Happy saving, everyone!

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I'm Back!

Wow... it's been almost three months since my last post - yikes. Sorry 'bout that.

At the moment I'm listening to the "Can I Afford It" segment of the Suze Orman show. She's pretty tough, I must say! I don't think I'd call her ;) lol

Any day now, my husband's hours could be cut back at work, so I'm returning my focus once again to money matters and trying to be frugal. These days one never knows what lies around the corner.

Hopefully that will mean more regular posts :)

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Petcetera Savings

Because of a company restructure, Petcetera is offering discounts of up to 70% on its inventory. Here's a link with more info.

The sale is for 60 days, and is nation wide. Apparently they are trying to generate cash flow while filing for creditor protection. Hopefully this will work for them, because it would be a shame if they went completely under. Still, I suppose this is a reflection of the current economy - expensive pet extras are not in the average family budget these days!

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SoBe World Giveaway (U.S.)

Today SoBe World is having a promotion - they're giving away free 0 Cal Lifewater.

Here's the link to find out how to get yours:

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Nickel And Dime Tip - Hot Water

Here's a point I read awhile back that I thought I'd share:

Have you ever rinsed something, or washed your hands so quickly that even though your tap was set for warm or hot water, the hot water didn't have a chance to travel through the pipes before you turned the water off?

Essentially you ended up using cold anyway - no big deal. But unless you had the tap set for cold (in our case, pushed all the way to the right), there was still water taken from the hot water tank and drawn into the pipes. This means that more water will have to be heated to replace it.

It's such a small amount (not even pennies?) each time, until you consider adding up every single time the tap is turned on and off (on and off, on and off).

If the still cold water that comes out of the tap is fine for what you need, why take it from the hot water tank?

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Dr. Phil Episode "Saving Money, Tips And Tricks"

At the moment I'm watching a recorded episode of Dr. Phil, about money saving tips and tricks, featuring the Economides family. I'm busy typing a list of pointers that they offer for saving money, and as I'm doing so, can't help but keep score on our family (yikes ;)

Here goes:

Stock up during sales - I do this sometimes, but need to be more consistent.

Buy food in bulk and freeze (vacuum seal meat to prevent freezer burn) - we do this! We have a Food Saver vacuum sealer, which we use all the time (btw it works extremely well).

Buy at thrift stores - I do this sometimes. There are certain things I won't buy used (such as undergarments or shoes), but 80% of my kids' clothes are used, and as I sit here typing this, I'm wearing thrift store jeans.

Don't buy big - DING! Guilty. Have to work on this with DH, although he's not entirely to blame ;)

Avoid debt - we're trying hard on this one, but until we budget and learn to not spend more than we make, this will continue to be a challenge.

Live below your means - this one is tricky. I think DH and I are both a bit in denial about how things add up.

Use creativity instead of credit - hmmmm.... sounds interesting!

Embrace a thrifty lifestyle - I confess I do enjoy cutting coupons, comparing prices and looking for deals. Not all aspects of being thrifty are painful.

Shop with a list - we're good at this one :)

Plan menus ahead of time - I've done this in the past, but honestly I haven't noticed that it really made a difference. I guess it would depend on the type of meals that each family eats.

Use coupons - I'm good about this one! I even combine coupons with sales for even greater savings (patting myself on the back ;)

Buy bread from bakery outlets - we have a McGavin's bread basket close by, and it's amazing how much cheaper their bread is.

Shop in more than one store - we do this too - we have several stores that we choose from, and create custom lists for each.

Eat leftovers - DH takes leftovers for lunch to work :)

Don't buy what you don't need - this is one we have trouble with :(

Put a jacket on water heater to insulate - I think I'm going to look into this one, although our water heater is new and more energy efficient already.

Close heat vents in rooms not being used - LOL our house really isn't big enough for this to apply...

Bring in competitor flyers and many stores will match prices - I've never had the nerve to try this one - I think I just might.

As I type this, I'm thinking hmmm, instead of blogging, I should be clipping some coupons ;)

'Bye for now!

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Weekly Mortgage Payments

Check that one off my list: yesterday I called the bank and set up weekly mortgage payments.

We were paying every two weeks, which is still more advantageous than once or twice a month, so now we'll save even more interest. (The difference between bi-weekly and weekly is not as great as the difference between monthly and bi-weekly, but it's still savings :)

Here's a mortgage calculator so you can compare, and see how much money you would save:

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Inactive Account

I received one of those form letters from my bank regarding the "high interest" (2.5%) savings account I have with them. It said that my account was inactive, and if I didn't conduct a transaction in the next 90 days, the account would be subject to a $20 fee.

Alrighty then. On to the website I go, looking for something to do. Lo and behold, all the other investment products I qualify for earn a lower interest rate (if that's possible ;), and most are non-redeemable!

Isn't that convenient.

I called the toll-free customer service number, ready to give them a piece of my mind, only to have the rep who answered offer to do an internal transfer (out then back in) of 1 cent, to activate my account for another year. Done.

It started me thinking about the other products they had available (for example, term deposits at under 2%) and I thought, why on earth would anyone buy them when a mere savings account offers better interest? Especially in today's shaky economy, when people may be unwilling or unable to tie up their cash?

Beats me. Your two cents?

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4 Ways To Save On Auto Insurance

We're doing #1, which is what inspired this post:

1) Raise your insurance deductible. We're lucky in that DH is one of the best drivers I've ever known and never seems to need the insurance coverage we pay dearly for. (Knocking on wood now, hoping I haven't jinxed him).

2) Install anti-theft devices. We have a car alarm (I'm assuming this qualifies). Not sure about a snarling Pitbull in the back seat - you'd have to check with your auto insurance company.

3) If your car is older and would cost less than your yearly premium to replace (ack), consider waiving some of your benefits, such as collision or comprehensive.

4) Last but not least, maintain a good driving record - this can qualify you for all kinds of discounts (reducing your insurance from through the roof unaffordable to simply expensive).


Happy driving everyone!

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Off Season Sales

Don't you love it when you shop for a certain item and find an extra bargain as well?

I went to Wal-Mart today and found that they'd marked down their boys' shirts, sizes 4-6x, from $6 to $2. Needless to say I grabbed a bunch :-) DS doesn't really need any shirts at the moment (no sale is worth spending the money on if you don't need the item, as hard as it can be to resist ;-) but luckily they had sizes too big for him, so I bought those.

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Being Green Pays Off In Hydro And Gas Savings

Ha! So it is worth wearing an extra sweater and weaning myself off my old "light junkie" habits ;-)

I wonder if it makes any difference some days, when I can't seem to get warm, and I can't summon the energy to get up off the couch to turn off the bathroom light left on by one of the kids, but then... our bills arrive, bringing with them renewed inspiration.

First, let's look at hydro. (This would be me chasing after the kids, sending them back to their rooms to turn lights off. "Who's watching that TV? No one? OK can we turn it off please?") Turn off, unplug, turn off, unplug... you get the picture.

This month is the third month in a row that we've had a credit balance on our bill, and we'll probably get one more credit month as well. This of course is pre-paid hydro from being on the equal payment plan, and ideally the money could be in our bank account earning interest, but the fact that our credit this year equals about four months is evidence of our decreased consumption.

Confirming this is the "Daily Average Comparison" featured on the bill, which reads as follows:

Jan 2008 58 kWh
Jan 2009 30 kWh

This year we are using just slightly more than half of the hydro we used last year, all from unplugging things while not in use, and turning off unnecessary lights.

Next let's look at gas, which we use for heating and cooking.

We recently installed new windows, and I think they are the main reason that our gas consumption is less. I do try and use the toaster oven when I can instead of the gas oven, and I've been hanging most of our clothes to dry as well. According to our bill, the weather has been colder this January than last, and yet our gas usage has been less:

Jan 2008 Average daily temp: 4C; Average daily gas usage: 0.52 GJ
Jan 2009 Average daily temp: 0C; Average daily gas usage: 0.37 GJ

Our monthly installment payment has gone down from $147.00 to $127.00.

You wonder (at least I did) when you turn off that extra light or turn the heat down that half degree if it really makes any difference. Apparently so!

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5 More Things To Try Using Less Of

Here's a continuation of a previous post called "10 Things To Try Using Less Of". I was browsing through older posts and thought "hmmm, what else can I cut back on?"

1) Peanut butter - my kids love this on everything. I usually just slather it on, but I really could get away with using less.

2) Condiments - I can try putting less ketchup, etc., on my kids' plates, and only add more if they finish what they have.

3) Potatoes - we have a bad habit in our household of peeling too many potatoes when we make them mashed. We usually end up putting the pot on the floor so the dog can lick up the leftovers (but hey, do we save in dog food? ;-) I'm going to start using fewer potatoes from now on.

4) Toothpaste - you really only need a small dab, if you are brushing correctly and flossing as well. I need to supervise my kids more to make sure they're not squeezing out big globs of the stuff!

5) Bread - here's one I do already, but I thought it was worth mentioning. If I make full sized sandwiches for my kids (i.e. two slices each), I usually end up feeding leftovers to the dog. I've started limiting them to one slice per day, and now they finish what they're given, as well as eat more specifically nutrient dense foods (such as apples) because they're not over filled with bread.

There you go - more saving ideas to try. (As long as I don't make myself cut back on laptop power usage, I should be fine ;-)
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Weekly Mortgage Payments

We're switching our mortgage from bi-weekly payments to weekly. Although this doesn't result in as much interest savings as shortening the amortization period would, it still helps by reducing more quickly the balance of the loan that the interest is calculated on.

I've heard that there are even daily mortgages available - interesting!! I'm skeptical that our bank would offer this, but I'm going to ask. I'll let you know what I find out...
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Have You Shopped For Marked Down Christmas Items Yet?

Now's the time!

I was in Pharmasave today and noticed that all of their Christmas stock was marked down by 50%. Some things are still cheaper elsewhere, such as at dollar stores, but there are definitely deals to be had if you shop around.

Happy bargain hunting :-)
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Buying In Bulk

We have a full sized freezer and a vacuum sealer ("Food Saver"), because we shop regularly at warehouse stores, or stock up at regular stores when things go on sale.

This evening my husband did a big shop at Costco. Some of the items that were cheaper there include:

-butter (which freezes extremely well)
-ground beef

It's like anything else - it pays to shop around and know prices, because not everything is cheaper. I keep receipts from various stores and compare prices on a per unit level. Admittedly the convenience of pre-packed smaller portions is nice, but generally speaking, if you buy food in bulk and divide it into smaller portions before freezing it, you usually save money.
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