Visit BuzzFeed Food to discover 30 Foods You’ll Never Have to Buy Again, because they can easily be made at home!
Visit BuzzFeed Food to discover 30 Foods You’ll Never Have to Buy Again, because they can easily be made at home!
The following is a Financial success testimonial from Alison! Enjoy!
This year I had a goal of depositing two full paycheques directly into my savings account on top of my regular monthly 10% savings. I was discussing my budgeting and savings plans with a credit counselor and she told me she had never known someone to be successful at what I was planning…challenge accepted! This past month I was able to successfully do this and wanted to share with other frugal minded individuals how I did it so you can too.
My employer pays me bi-weekly, which means I receive two paycheques every month except for two wonderful months of the year when I receive three paycheques. At first this provided an interesting budgeting challenge because there are a few ways to calculate a monthly salary:
1. Take the overall yearly salary and divide it by 12 months.
For example, if I made $39,000 per year and divided that by 12 months, I would get a monthly salary of $3,250. This number is valuable for certain financial situations, but unrealistic for my monthly budgeting.
2. Add up the paycheques received in a month.
In this scenario, if I made $39,000/year, 10 months of the year I would be paid $3,000 and the other two months of the year I would be paid $4,500.
When creating a budget, what was I supposed to do with these three different amounts: $3250, $3000, and $4500? I started by making a decision: I do not want to live paycheque to paycheque. I wanted to create a system that always had me ahead of the game. I also decided to live off the amount of money I am paid for those 10 months of the year involving two paycheques and was determined to put those additional two paycheques, in their entirety, directly into my savings account. Saving 10% of my regular monthly salary is great, but I wanted a better security net.
Here’s what I did:
Through the month as I deposit each paycheque, I transfer out all of my “planning ahead expenses” and let the rest remain to build up for the next month. Because each paycheque that I deposit into my account is not needed for any immediate expenses, I am released from my dependence on it. When I deposit a paycheque, I have no thought of spending it because I know I do not need it for the current month. This freedom is essential because when one of those three paycheque months comes along, I treat the first two cheques just like any other normal month by transferring out my “plan aheads” and building up my float. Those two cheques set me up for the next month and that third one can go straight into my savings account without a second thought.
Using this system of building up a float is how I stay away from living paycheque to paycheque. I did sacrifice a bit of savings to set myself up in this way, but the benefits are worth it:
Sticking to this takes planning and discipline, but it is worth it when I see the big jump in savings a couple times a year! It is also worth it to know that being frugal and wise with my money allows me to do something that someone in the financial world thought wasn’t possible.
About Alison: I am a lover of coupons and good deals; I believe in saving money where I can so I can spend it on what really matters. I am currently exploring my childhood dream of being a writer through internet ramblings on my blog: http://theconvertedagnostic.
Do you have a financial success story you’d love to share to help inspire others? Send your stories to me here.
With a little creativity and some smart shopping, it’s possible to reduce your food waste at home quite simply. If you find yourself throwing out rotten food on a regular basis, you’re also throwing away the money you used to purchase the food. And that’s not good for the grocery budget!
Here are 11 ways to save money and your food:
Creating a meal plan is a crucial step to help you spend less and waste less. When you know what you’re going to eat every day of the week, you ideally will only purchase the foods you need at the grocery store. Without a meal plan and a grocery list based on your plan, you’ll most likely find yourself wandering the aisles grabbing whatever looks good to you. That’s fun, but you’ll most likely end up with not enough or not the right groceries for a week’s worth of meals.
In the end, creating a meal plan isn’t enough, you must stick to it! I admit, this is my downfall, so quite often I’ll find ingredients I bought for a certain recipe gone to waste
If you find you usually have quite a few leftovers, account for the leftovers in your meal plan. Maybe set aside one or two nights that you devote to eating up those leftovers. Or, turn those leftovers into another meal. Perhaps all that leftover spaghetti sauce will create a wonderful chili, as an example.
If your pantry and freezer are quite well stocked, start your “shopping” there. By using what you have on hand already, will ensure you don’t buy more than you need and will help prevent food waste on the products you’ve already purchased.
Also, something I’ve learned about our family is, while buying a big package of celery (for example) may be cheaper in the long run than buying individual stalks, most of it goes to waste! We’re not big celery eaters so purchasing individual stalks is actually cheaper for us because I only buy what we will use. This same principle can apply to many different items in the grocery store.
You may have had some moments where you think you should eat more quinoa/fish/whatever, as you’re strolling through the grocery store. I’ve had plenty of those nutritional guilt trips, but this inevitably leads to unplanned purchases for items your family may not be too excited about yet. Focus on the foods your family enjoys, and add new ones gradually, after you’ve found recipes worth trying.
In all honesty, I never understood how buying local produce could save you money since the price I was looking at paying was more expensive than something I could purchase from a regular grocery store. But then I realized that local produce travels way less than anything purchased from most grocery stores. Because local produce travels less, you’re paying for a fresher item that will have a much longer life span! Makes sense, right? An obvious reason to support our local farmers.
Before you dish out another big portion, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate. Since it’s not likely you’ll save that little piece of chicken you couldn’t finish, stick to smaller portions. You can always get seconds!
Rather than scraping your leftovers into the garbage or if you don’t feel like eating them before they go to waste, put them in the freezer! This makes for a great way to reduce waste and creates an easy meal for a busy night.
Not all produce should be stored the same way. Here’s a great guide on Design Mom with 6 Secrets to Properly Washed & Stored Produce.
Take some time to learn what “Sell-by” or “use-by” dates actually mean. The sell-by date is the last recommended day you should buy a product from the store, but you can still eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality. But, if stored properly, most foods will stay fresh a few days longer than the use-by date! Of course, if you note any weird odors, textures, or colors, throw it out.
Whether it’s soft spots in apples, bruises on bananas or dark spots on potatoes, all produce will develop imperfections. With produce that is past its prime, simply cut around the “bad” parts before you eat or throw veggies into a stock pot for soup, or make a smoothie with the less pristine fruits. Just because something isn’t in perfect condition doesn’t mean it’s inedible!
If you’re dealing with mold, though, it’s time for the garbage. Unless it’s cheese. You can cut around the mold to salvage the rest.
Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable pieces and peelings? In a few months you’ll end up with nutrient-rich compost for your garden!
How do you reduce food waste in your home?
Although I’m only fairly new to motherhood, I’ve learned a few things about building my daughter’s wardrobe cheaply. (I just have to be careful I don’t overbuy because girls clothing can be so cute!) But as you know, kids outgrow their clothing very quickly so clothes buying can become quite expensive. But, by planning ahead and taking my tips into consideration, you’ll be sure to build your children’s wardrobes cheaply.
Nothing is as cheap as free! I took full advantage of the clothes my sister-in-law offered to lend us for the first six months or so of Sienna’s life. I know hand-me downs are normally meant to be kept, but our borrowing situation was ideal since we didn’t have to store any of the clothes once we were finished with them. We just gave them back!
Buying off the clearance racks is especially handy if you’re stocking up for next season. Last Fall/Winter, I stocked up on quite a few items that will work for Sienna this coming winter, including a snow suit for only $10! Had I waited until she needed the snow suit, I’m sure I would have been paying close to full price. Currently my favourite store to shop at for the clearance prices is the Joe section in our local Superstore.
Similar to shopping the clearance racks in a brick and mortar store, shopping the sale sections online can save you a bundle. Last Summer I stocked up on quite a few outfits when Old Navy had one of their better coupon codes. I think I averaged about $3.00 a piece!
Garage sales and thrift stores can be a great place to look for gently used clothing. Although I haven’t had much opportunity to shop at garage sales myself, I know that the clothes I was selling in our recent garage sale were hot sellers! I’m sure most cities offer this, but our town also holds a twice annual kids garage sale at our Recreation Centre. I picked up some cute sweaters, jeans and PJ’s for about $0.50 a piece. I find buying used clothing an excellent way to build a kid’s wardrobe cheaply because the items are usually only worn a few times before they’re outgrown.
What are your tips for building a kid’s wardrobe on a budget?
This post was a long time in coming since we actually did our mini kitchen reno over a year ago! Regardless, we still learned some valuable tips to help us get the most bang for our buck that may come in handy when you set out to do some renovations.
Our main goal in our kitchen renovation on a budget was to replace the counter top. Not only was it an awful colour (burnt orange) it was showing signs of major wear. The other not as important aspects, were to replace the broken dishwasher and leaky tap.
Here’s what we did to stay within our $1,000 budget:
We don’t intend on living in this condo forever so it wasn’t important to us to have that “dream” kitchen this time around. So, since the cupboards were still in pretty great shape we opted to leave them in place. This saved a huge chunk of money and time! I believe new cupboards are the most expensive part of a kitchen renovation, so if you can work with what you have already, you’ll be well on your way to staying within budget! The stove and fridge were also not an expense for us since they were both in working condition.
It’s important to check out all your options and price things out before you get started on a project. In our situation with the counter tops, we had a few different options:
In the end we opted for the second option because this was the most cost effective and time efficient option in our situation since my Dad and my husband can be pretty handy. We chose the arborite pattern that appealed to us the most then purchased the lengths we needed according to our measurements.
In almost every situation, opting to do it yourself is the way to go if you want to save some change. Since my Dad and my husband are quite handy and are good at figuring things out, this was obvious to us. A couple of times they had to do some Google searches to figure things out, but not only was the reno a success, I think they had fun too.
Since we decided to buy premade counters, we were left with some angles needing to be cut into our long rectangular counter tops. Rather than attempting to do this ourselves, we thought it wise to pay a small price to have the counters cut with the proper saw at a local business. The possibility of ruining the counter tops (thus having to purchase them again) was enough to convince us to not do this step ourselves.
On our list to purchase was a dishwasher, a tap, a sink and counter tops. We shopped around at Rona, The Home Depot and some local hardware stores and decided that The Home Depot had the best options and prices for us. Except the dishwasher. We bought that from a local furniture store. Even though we bought most of our stuff from one store, it was still worth it to see the other options available to us.
I decided I wanted a really basic (read: cheap) kitchen tap. I wanted to pay less than $100 since I knew I didn’t want to sink money into a home we wouldn’t be staying in forever. There were a few options but none of them were really jumping out at me. They seemed very poorly made and I was afraid we’d end up replacing it again. Low and behold, my husband spotted a really nice name brand tap on clearance for $90 ($100 off!). Once he pointed it out I made up my mind and bought that one. Long story short, watch for those bight coloured clearance stickers!
When it came time to purchase the dishwasher, we were on the hunt for a basic white dishwasher. We found a great one on sale at a local furniture store. Turns out, only the floor model was left. So I asked for a discount to make up for any wear and tear it may have received from others looking at it. The sales associate obliged! I learned that day it never hurts to ask for a discount!
A year and a half later, I’m still commenting to my husband about the spectacular counters he installed for me and the amazing, unleaky tap he found on clearance. With all the tips I listed above, we were able to update our little kitchen for about $1,000. While the results aren’t spectacular, I’m happy to have a more updated counter top and functioning appliances!
Have you got any tips for saving money on a renovation?
So you want to decorate. Liven up your home with a new few things. The thing is, the piggy bank is pretty empty. But that doesn’t have to stop you. There are plenty of ways to decorate on a budget, especially if you know where to shop.
Here are 5 places to shop when you’re decorating on a budget:
Dollar store decor is definitely cheap, price and quality wise, in most cases. But, dollar stores always seem to have a nice selection of candles, candle holders, vases, wall art and more. Not only do they have “pre-made” decor items, they provide a great selection of craft supplies so you can create your own unique decor. As another example, I recently purchased two simple wooden picture frames that I intend on using for framing some nice papers I own to add some colour to the walls.
Thrift stores can be amazing places to go decor shopping. They often carry furniture, paintings, accessories, vintage fabric and more. If you find a piece of furniture you like, but it’s a little on the worn side, you can always refinish, re-paint, or reupholster it. Old paintings and mirrors can be re-framed, or frames can be used for new pieces of art. Finally, clean, polish or spray paint the neat accessories you find.
Similar to thrift stores, garage sales can be a treasure chest full of cheap home decor items. While many items might need a little bit of TLC, you may find some beautiful items for sale simply because the sellers have changed their tastes.
If you’re on the hunt for some new-to-you furniture, I think Kijiji, Craigslist and Facebook Buy & Sell sites are a great place to look. We recently were on the hunt for a new couch and love seat. I had been scouring the flyers a good sale, but nothing jumped out at me. It wasn’t until a leather couch set appeared on a local Facebook group that I got excited. We ended up getting a great deal because we opted to purchase something gently used.
Possibly the most expensive option on this list, Homesense is a great place to look for brand new lamps, pillows, bedding, baskets, dishes, towels, bathroom accessories and more at marked-down prices.
Where is your favorite budget-friendly place to shop?
Clear out your closet and earn some cash by selling your unwanted clothing on consignment! Not only is selling on consignment a great way to earn some extra cash, you could essentially use the cash to purchase the clothing you really want! Maybe a guilt free solution to your shopping habits?
With almost every season, I find a small pile of clothes to bring in to a local consignment shop. It’s pretty exciting to stop by later in the year to pick up the cash I earned for items I would have otherwise simply donated.
Here are my tips to help you get the most money out of the items you bring to consignment:
Give your gently-worn clothes a wash to freshen them up and to get any stains out, you’ll have more luck selling items that are in great shape.
Going along with my previous point, having clothes that are newly ironed will help your items sell for top dollar.
You will have the best luck selling more “current” clothing; nobody wants to wear your grandmother’s polyester pants!
The longer you hold on to an item you know you won’t wear, the less it will be worth when you decide to finally clear your closet.
Not only is consignment great for buying pieces for your wardrobe at affordable prices, it’s also a great way to part with some of your gently-worn clothes and make some money while you’re at it!
What are your selling on consignment tips? Have you ever brought any items to consignment shops?
I love free stuff. You love free stuff. Everyone loves free stuff! I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that claims to dislike getting stuff for free. Everything we want can be bought with a price tag, but before you head to the store to purchase an item, read my tips for acquiring the things you need for free.
Here are my 6 favourite ways to get stuff for free:
Borrowing could be ideal if you need a particular item only for a short time. I do this all the time with friends and family. Especially with serving ware used for big gatherings that I don’t have room to store.
Freecycle.org is an online network found in most communities around Canada that provides you with a way to acquire something you need for free. It’s also a great way to unload items you don’t have a use for any more! You simply create a post stating what you’re looking for, then someone will reply to you via email if they can fulfill your request!
Say you would like a room in your house painted, but you’re terrible at paint brush control. You do, however, know how to build a very sturdy shelf that a friend of yours has been hunting for. Why not suggest exchanging services? You’ll get a painted room and your friend will get a nice shelf in exchange for a few hours of work. Win win!
If would be silly to not mention using coupons as a way to get things for free. While getting stuff for completely free is not possible (you still have to pay taxes), it’s a fantastic way to get stuff you need for pennies. If you follow my weekly Coupon Match Ups that get posted on Thursday’s, quite often you’ll find items on the list that are free when you match a coupon to a sale price. Many companies are also offering FPC’s (Full Price Coupons) these days, most often through their Facebook pages. See also the How to Coupon in Canada series for more coupon details.
For the past several years, I’ve been collecting Swag Bucks through their search engine (and other options), then redeeming them for free Starbucks, Amazon and PayPal gift cards! They offer a ton of different products in their Rewards store, but those three are my favourite. Here’s a post I wrote featuring 6 Ways to Earn More Swag Bucks that may help answer some questions.
At least a few times a week, I’ll post a great freebie offer that a company is offering. The offers range anywhere from sample size body lotions and shampoos to full size products, like bacon! There are also frequent Mail in Rabate offers that will pop up from time to time good for a free box of dish detergent or stain remover, for example. While you do have to pay out of pocket initially for mail in rebate items, you will be reimbursed if you fill in all the paperwork correctly.
There you have it, 6 of my tried and true methods to get stuff for free! Have you tried any of these methods? What are your tips for getting stuff for free?
As summer approaches, your thoughts may be starting to turn towards planning and saving for a family vacation. Though money is always an issue these days, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a fun family vacation on a budget! It just means you’ll have to use some smart thinking to pull it off!
Here are some ideas that I believe to be useful when planning a vacation on a budget:
Weekends, especially long weekends are popular travel times throughout the summer. Maybe plan your trip to start on a Tuesday (or Wednesday or Thursday) when there are likely to be less travelers. Hotel rates are usually higher on weekends too
If staying in a hotel doesn’t have to be your only option, why not consider staying in a hostel, going camping, or renting a home? When we went to Phoenix a few years ago with some family, we rented a beautiful home (through VRBO) for much cheaper then if we were to pay for a hotel room for all three families! If you must stay in a hotel, be sure to look for deals. I’ve used Priceline with great success as well as finding deals through travel emails I’m signed up for. Many deal sites like Groupon and WagJag have sections within their websites featuring only travel deals, you may find something there!
Much like how you might plan your meals at home, planning for meals during vacation is important if you want to stay within your budget. You may like to eat out for every meal and if that’s the case, check for groupons to local restaurants or search for coupons in local newspapers. If the budget won’t allow for you to eat out every meal, consider eating out for breakfast and dinner only. If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, use it, and cook some delicious meals! Another option that we like to do is stop by a grocery store to pick up staples for picnics. Our selection usually includes sandwich meat, buns, cheese, fruit, granola bars, juice boxes and maybe a bag of chips. We also like to take advantage of hotels with free breakfast. We’ll eat a lot, then we’re usually good until dinner with a little snack in between.
Fun activities are a must for any vacation, but they don’t have to cost a lot. Doing a bit of research beforehand can really help keep your budget in check. Look into local parks or historical sites that offer free admission or cheap rates. Beaches are also a great way to unwind, and even horse around at no cost. When we’re on vacation, we always like to find hiking trails to explore, which are free unless we’re stopping in a national park. If you have a vehicle, we also like to drive around to acquaint ourselves with some local neighborhoods.
As I mentioned previously, we rented a house with other family members on a trip to Phoenix. This not only saved us a bundle when it came to accommodations, we saved a bunch by sharing grocery costs! While this may not be ideal for some families, we really enjoyed it because we still had the freedom to do our own activities if we wanted to “escape” to do our own thing as a couple.
If you’re really on a budget, or wanting to stay close to home, a staycation may just be the ticket you need to have some fun as a family. Plan your Staycation just as you would a regular vacation. Set a budget, research activities and find restaurant deals. Reacquaint yourselves with local attractions, camp grounds, and parks. Take advantage of free concerts or stay up late stargazing in your backyard. The options are endless!
In order to stay within your budget, it may be important to have a Plan B for some of the activities you want to do. Due to unforeseen circumstances, one (or more) of the activities you wanted to do may be closed or cancelled. Having a budget friendly backup plan in place will still ensure you’ll have a blast!
Taking a family vacation doesn’t have to be stressful or too hard on the budget when you keep these tips in mind!
Date night can be hard enough to find time for, and it can also be expensive. It’s important to remember that being romantic doesn’t have to mean spending all your cash. Here are some free date night (or date day) ideas, that you can try today!
How often do you go on dates? I’d love to hear your free or cheap date ideas!