52 Ways To Save: Learn How to Negotiate a Good Deal

Every Monday in 2015, I’ll be sharing a different idea to help you save money! Add all of these tips to your frugal repertoire and you’ll be able to save a lot of money this year! I hope you’ll gather a few new ideas or at least some inspiration from this series.  

How to Negotiate a Good Deal

How to Negotiate a Good Deal

Do you have friends who always seem to find great deals? Does it seem like no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to land the deals they do? Well the trick is dealing smarter, not harder. Learning to negotiate a good deal can help you to save big bucks throughout the year. If you want to learn to negotiate a better deal whenever you purchase a product, take a look at these helpful tips below.

1. Do your research.

It’s best to go into a deal scenario well educated. If you know that item X can be purchased for a lower price at another store, this is excellent information to know. Know what the average retail price is of any product you are purchasing, so you know what you have to work with as far as price ranges.

2. Never disclose your budget.

Many times a salesman will ask you what budget you are working with when making a deal. Don’t tell them. They will still try to sell you at the higher end of budget. Instead, ask for your options to make a decision on. You are never obligated to disclose your budget, as it could actually hinder you from getting a good deal.

3. Don’t appear to be in a hurry.

If you appear to be in a hurry to purchase, it can be used against you. Instead, act as though you have all of the time in the world to make this decision. Make the salesman bring the good deal to you and attract your business.

4. Ask for a manager.

A manager may be able to give you a better deal than a floor salesperson. If you feel as though there is a better deal to be had, ask to speak to a manager. See if the price is firm by simply asking, “What is your best price on this? Is it firm?” and go from there.

5. Know your discount status.

Always ask if there is a discount for seniors, students, teachers, military, etc. It is always wise to ask the salesperson if they offer discounts AND if discounts can be stacked. For example, can you use your senior discount on top of a coupon or sale price? If so, the savings can add up!

6. Quote your competitors.

This is where it’s wise to go in educated as mentioned above. Knowing the price of the store’s competitors can make a huge difference. Quote these prices even if they are about the same or more, and ask if they can beat the price. Some retailers will not only price match but offer an additional discount as well!

7. Be polite.

You can catch more bees with honey! Always be polite, charming, and put on a smile. Be respectful of the salesperson and they are more likely to want to work with you and give you a great deal.

See how simple it can be to negotiate a great deal? Give these tips a try and see what savings you can score!

I’d love to hear what sort of deals you have received over the years thanks to some negotiating!  Let me know in the comments.

See the other articles in this series, here.

52 Ways To Save: Have a No Spend Day/Week/Month

Every Monday in 2015, I’ll be sharing a different idea to help you save money! Add all of these tips to your frugal repertoire and you’ll be able to save a lot of money this year! I hope you’ll gather a few new ideas or at least some inspiration from this series.  

Have a No Spend Day to Save

Maybe you can relate, but every once in a while, I find we’re spending money left right and center. Bills need to be paid, groceries need to be bought (again) or a birthday party comes up.

June is an especially spendy month for us because on top of our regular expenses, we also have our house insurance, car insurance and property tax due. Ouch!

While we do have our finances under control and carry zero debt, it’s still nice to intentionally stop spending money for a time. I like to call this a No Spend Challenge.

That brings me to today’s post on 52 Ways to Save: Have a No Spend Day/Week/Month!

In the past, we’ve done several no spend months where we don’t spend any extra money for an entire month. Groceries and bills are the exception.

You don’t have to have a No Spend Month to see savings. Even setting aside one day a week can significantly help your bank account. Especially if you find yourself making several small purchases on a daily basis. (Those small purchases can really add up!)

If the idea of having a No Spend Day/Week/Month strikes fear, I know for a fact that it’s not so bad once you’re into a groove. You may even find your mindset changing about the way you view money!

I asked the wonderful people over at the Simply Frugal Facebook page what they like to do for fun that is 100% free.  Here are their answers:

  • Picnic in the park
  • Read books (from the library or free kindle ebooks from Amazon)
  • Sit at the Waterfront
  • Hike
  • Breathe
  • Weed the Garden
  • Take the dog for a walk to new places
  • Visit the Farmer’s Market (free if you don’t buy anything!)
  • Visit the beach
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Walk
  • Sleep
  • Enjoy the scenery
  • Stargaze
  • Backyard Camping
  • Collect shells, rocks or beach glass

Related: 10 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money

As you can see, the options are pretty endless when it comes to having a fun day without spending any money. And if you ask me, that all sounds pretty relaxing and good for the soul. :)

Have you ever done a No Spend Challenge?  How did it go for you?

See the other articles in this series, here.

7 Frugal Ways to Keep Kids Busy This Summer

7 Frugal Ways to Keep Kids Busy This Summer


Are you already fearing the summer time boredom blues? Summer time can be a fun time, but it can also get kids in a bit of a rut. If you are looking for ways to keep kids occupied this summer without spending a lot of money, you can in fact keep them active, occupied, and keep those imaginations going! Here are 7 Frugal Ways to Keep Kids Busy This Summer:

1. Create a sidewalk chalk art show.

Get out the sidewalk chalk (a buck a box at most dollar stores) and let the kids choose a space they wish to decorate. Let them really get into it creating murals and sketches, and then host an art show. Invite neighbors to come and see the artwork, while sipping on lemonade and cookies.

2. Hold a bike wash.

Get out the buckets, rags, and soap and hold a neighborhood bike wash. You can even let kids run their bikes through the sprinklers if you wish. Give kids the chance to get those dirty bikes shining like new while working together at the same time.

3. Go on a nature themed scavenger hunt.

Create a list of random objects and have children go on a scavenger hunt for them. Choose items easily found in nature such as rocks, bird feathers, a flower, a leaf, etc. This will allow them to get outdoors and get active while also enjoying some competitive fun.

4. Volunteer together.

Local animal rescues and food pantries can always use a hand. Get out and get active with one that interests you. It is a great way for kids to give back to their community while enjoying some time together as a family. You might even decide to continue volunteering after summer is over.

5. Create an indoor drive in.

Give each child a box to decorate as a car or vehicle of their choice. Then, put a movie on and provide plenty of snacks. Allow children to “park” their cars and watch the movie just like they are at a real life drive in. They will love it!

6. Host a field day.

Host a field day of outside games and activities. They don’t have to be difficult or pricey options, just try ones like hula hooping, sack races, face painting, and ball games. Kids are sure to enjoy the atmosphere, friendly competition, and fun!

7. Make your own kites.

There are so many kite tutorials online from the simple to the extravagant! Make your own kites and then take them for a spin. You can even give out awards for the most creative, highest flying, etc. How fun does that sound?

Summer doesn’t have to drag or cost big bucks either. Give these tips a try and you are sure to entertain your kids for less.

52 Ways To Save: Make Your Own Snacks

Every Monday in 2015, I’ll be sharing a different idea to help you save money! Add all of these tips to your frugal repertoire and you’ll be able to save a lot of money this year! I hope you’ll gather a few new ideas or at least some inspiration from this series.

Make your own snacks  

One way to save a lot of money is to make your own snacks. Buying snacks from the grocery store can really add up. Plus, not only are they more delicious than pre-packaged snacks, they are usually much healthier for you too!

10 Quick & Easy Homemade Snack Ideas

  1. No-Bake Energy Bites
  2. Veggies with homemade Ranch Dip
  3. Fruit
  4. Nuts/Seeds
  5. Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
  6. Healthy Strawberry Banana Ice Cream
  7. Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
  8. Popcorn
  9. Homemade Applesauce Sauce
  10. Tropical Pineapple Peach Slushie

Something I’ve been wanting to implement in our home is a snack bin.  The idea is to set aside some time over the weekend to put together a bunch of snacks in a bin that you can grab easily throughout the week. My daughter is a snacker (she gets that from me…) so I love the thought of telling her to grab something out of the snack bin! Then I know she’s eating something nutritious!

What sort of homemade snacks do you like to have on hand?

See the other articles in this series, here.

How to Save Money on Summer Clothing

How to Save Money on Summer Clothing – learn how to update your summer wardrobe with these simple money saving tips!

How to Save Money on Summer Clothing - learn how to update your summer wardrobe with these simple money saving tips!
Now that summer is pretty much here, you might be thinking it’s time to update your wardrobe. Buying a new summer wardrobe doesn’t have to be pricey, in fact, if you know a few simple tips you can really save some cash. Take a look below at how to save money on summer clothing this season and get a fresh look you want for less.

1. Stock up on maxi dresses.

I love, love maxi dresses. Maxi dresses are great because they can be worn informally during the day, to the beach, or even dressed up for evening wear. Their versatility makes them a great deal. You can often find maxi dresses for as little as $10. Simply add accessories to change their look.

2. Try basic colors.

Stick to a handful of basic colors that you can mix and match with each other. A simple color scheme of red, navy, white, and tan is one great combination idea. When you keep your clothing color palette simple, you can create more wardrobe combinations. If you do want more color, add it into these schemes with your jewelry and accessories, or, even your shoes.

3. Check out second hand stores.

Check out local thrift and consignments shops for second hand finds. Many of these shops carry gently used items that are sure to be in season, in style, and looking great. Plus, these items will cost you a fraction of the price of new.

4. Repurpose what you already own.

There are all sorts of tutorials online that will show you how to make a dress out of a t-shirt, how to make shorts out of jeans, and how to turn other clothing staples into something fun and fresh. Try your hand at some of these projects and see if you can turn something old into something new.

Related: 20 Ways to Refashion your Clothes

5. Shop online.

Find your favorite clothing retailers online and pair your purchase with a coupon code. Retailmenot.com is great for coupon codes and a quick search can save you huge. Many retailers also offer free shipping with a minimum purchase, so you save not only money but gas and time as well!

6. Get rid of old to get cash for new.

Sell your old clothing items in Facebook Buy & Sell groups, at a garage sale, or at consignment shops. You can then take your earnings and use them to buy new clothing items. Not only will you free up some cash this way, but you will free up space in your closet too.

7. Be patient.

If you can wait until the end of June, many summer staples will be on sale if not clearance already. Be patient and see if you can wait just a few weeks longer – you are sure to enjoy the savings!

See how simple it can be to save money on summer clothing? With these tips you can get the clothes you need while keeping some cash in your pocket for other summer time activities.

How do you save on Summer clothing?

52 Ways To Save: Shop Your Closet

Every Monday in 2015, I’ll be sharing a different idea to help you save money! Add all of these tips to your frugal repertoire and you’ll be able to save a lot of money this year! I hope you’ll gather a few new ideas or at least some inspiration from this series.  

Shop Your Closet to Save

One way I like to save is by shopping my own closet.  When ever I feel the urge to go out and buy a new piece of clothing, I’ll first take a look at what I already own.  Often I’ll pull out something that I haven’t worn in a while to see if I can create a new outfit. Many times, I’ve found some new favourite combinations without even hitting the mall!

Or, I’ll find a few pieces (shirts usually) that I’ve forgotten about.  Gotta love that!

Since I’m no fashionista, I complied a list of links to help you create new outfits by shopping your closet:

A great way to create new outfits with what you already own is by heading to Pinterest for some inspiration.  Do a search for outfits, then find some favourites. Next, head to your closet to find similar pieces so you can try recreating the ideas you found.  On a few occasions, I’ve found a similar piece, but never even thought of wearing it the way the inspiration picture shows.

When you do shop for new clothes, make sure to buy clothes that are versatile enough to be worn with several other items.

Do you shop your closet before you head out shopping?  How many fun new outfits have you discovered because of this?

See the other articles in this series, here.

5 Reasons to Buy Local Produce

Wandering the farmer's market makes for a perfect morning or afternoon and supporting local farmers is a great bonus.  Here are 5 fantastic reasons to buy local produce.

5 Reasons to Buy Local Produce

Summer is in the air and your local farmers markets are open and ready to provide you with super fresh and flavorful produce.  Wandering the market makes for a perfect morning or afternoon and supporting local farmers is a great bonus.  Here are 5 fantastic reasons to get out there and buy local produce.

Flavor & Freshness.

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the peak of their season provide you with the best flavors and are perfect for your favorite recipes.  Vendors usually put the best of their crop up front, so get there early.

Support Farmers.

Smaller family farms rely on their yearly crops and benefit from us buying directly from them each season.  You can also stimulate your local economy by shopping at your grocery store when you look for locally grown produce.

Sense of community.

By supporting local farmers and buying their produce, you can feel a sense of community while shopping at the farmer’s markets.  It’s a chance to get to know who’s growing fresh fruits and vegetables in your surrounding area as well as ask questions about how they are grown.

Healthy eating.

When buying local, the fruits and vegetables you buy and cook with are ready to eat. They are filled with their natural nutrients and provide a healthier option on your dinner table.

Environmentally friendly.

By visiting your local farmer’s markets and buying fresh produce, you’re helping to protect the environment by cutting down on the travel expense of transporting from province to province or even country to country.  Overall air pollution is lessened and truck fuel is saved.

For the best experience, go early and enjoy visiting all of the vendors at your own pace.  Some vendors will offer samples so that you can taste what you are buying.  Many times you end up finding fruit and vegetable varieties that you may never have heard of before. Enjoy the fruits of their labors all season long!

52 Ways To Save: Have a Home Energy Audit Done

Every Monday in 2015, I’ll be sharing a different idea to help you save money! Add all of these tips to your frugal repertoire and you’ll be able to save a lot of money this year! I hope you’ll gather a few new ideas or at least some inspiration from this series.  

How a Home Energy Audit Can Help You Save on Your Energy Bills

How energy efficient is your home? What are the most cost-efficient changes you can make to save energy and on your monthly utility bills? Here's how a Home Energy Audit can save you money on your utility bills.

The following post is a guest post by Hilary of CallMePower.ca. Enjoy!

How energy efficient is your home? What are the most cost-efficient changes you can make to save energy and on your monthly utility bills? Getting an energy audit done on your home can help you find out the answers to these questions and more. If you are thinking of renovating your home, here’s why you might want to consider having a home energy audit done first.

What is a Home Energy Audit?

A home energy audit is performed by an independent home energy advisor who inspects your home in order to evaluate its efficiency. They are specially trained to evaluate heating and insulation characteristics of a home, and are licensed by Natural Resources Canada. During a home energy audit the inspector will examine the performance of your home’s heating, insulation and air leakage, hot water, and ventilation systems, and will suggest cost-effective energy efficiency improvements and upgrades.

How Does a Home Energy Audit Work?

A home energy audit has several steps:

1. Walk-Through Assessment

home-energy-audit-assessment

The home energy advisor will start the assessment by walking through certain parts of your home to note aspects of how it uses energy. First, the home energy advisor will take some measurements and pictures of your home from the outside. Next, he or she will look at your furnace and basement in order to examine the age and performance of your furnace and water heater, as well as the level and quality of insulation in your basement. The home energy advisor will also look at other appliances throughout the house, such as the toilets, kitchen appliances, lighting, etc. He or she will also examine how well insulated your attic is.

2. Blower Test

Once the home energy advisor has examined the house from basement to roof, he or she will detect any drafts (which, in technical speak, is also known as “air infiltration”). This is often done by a “blower door test”, in which the technician put the house under reverse pressure by hooking up a powerful fan to the main door. How does this fan work? When turned on, the fan draws air through your home at a constant speed so that it reaches a certain (constant) pressure. This allows the advisor to measure how much leakage takes place within your home, and identify where the drafts are. Identifying the location of the drafts in your home will enable the technician to recommend where in your home needs sealing.

3. Home Energy Assessment Report

Once the inspection is finished, the energy advisor will create a report that breaks down how much energy your home uses for space and water heating, lighting and other appliances, and identifies where in your home energy is lost (windows, doors, basement, attic, etc). Your home energy advisor will explain the results of the report to you, and will answer any questions you might have. The report will identify which energy upgrades would be the most cost effective. Your home will also be compared with similar homes in the NRCan database so that you can see its relative efficiency. It will receive a current rating and a predicted rating for the suggested energy improvements.

Why Get a Home Energy Audit?

checkTo run your home cheaper and more efficiently. Having a home energy audit done on your home will show you how much energy it uses to run, and will give you some ideas on how to cut down on operating costs.

checkTo make sure your renovations are smart ones. The energy efficiency improvement suggestions that you will receive following the evaluation will give you an idea of which renovations are the most energy- and cost-efficient options for your home.

checkTo improve the value of your home. Your home will be given an EnerGuide rating as part of the report given to you following the home energy audit. Having your home reassessed once you’ve made some of the suggested improvements can improve your home’s resale value, as the improved EnerGuide label proves that you’ve made the important renovations for your home.

Where Can I Find a Licensed Home Energy Auditor?

NRCan has a list of licensed NRCan home evaluation service organizations in Canada. Only licensed organizations are able to give your home an EnerGuide label.

How Much Does a Home Energy Audit Cost?

Energy audits generally cost a few hundred dollars, but may be eligible for government rebates. Check with your local municipality or provincial government to see if you are eligible for a rebate if you have a home energy assessment performed on your house.

Hilary is the author of CallMePower.ca, a website that provides information about energy prices in Canada to help Canadians find the best prices for their electricity and gas supply. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, DIY projects, and scoring deals at thrift stores.

See the other articles in this series, here.

The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide

The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide

This was such a big hit last year, that I took the time to update it with this year’s dates!  Hope you enjoy :)

Are you living in the Okanagan or planning on taking a trip there this summer?  The Okanagan happens to be the place I call home, so I thought I’d create a guide full of fun, frugal activities that take place in the land of sun.  The goal is for this to be The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide.  If you have an event or know of a really cool place to visit, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Farmer’s Markets:

Food & Wine:

The Okanagan is well know for its award winning wines and wineries.  Many of them offer free tours and wine tastings. See a huge list of Okanagan wineries, here.

Canada Day:

Arts:

Beaches:

U-Pick Fruit & Fruit Stands:

Sports:

Golf Courses

The Okanagan has many amazing golf courses to play!  Enjoy one round or make a vacation out of it!  See this list of Okanagan Golf Courses.

Hiking Trails:

Festivals, Fairs & Community Events:

Father’s Day Events:

Places of interest:

Vernon & Area:

Kelowna & Area:

Penticton & Area:

Okanagan Tourism Websites:

kalamalka lake

How to Plan a Family Staycation

6 steps to Plan a Family Staycation that everyone is sure to remember for years to come.

6 steps to Plan a Family Staycation that everyone is sure to remember for years to come.

Are you lacking the funds or time this year for a family vacation? If that’s the case, don’t worry. A family staycation is a great way to spend time together and “get away” while still keeping some cash in your pocket. If you have never planned a family staycation before, take a peek below at these helpful tips for how to plan a family staycation that everyone will enjoy!

1. Choose a theme.

One of the best ways to start is to decide the theme of your staycation. Do you want tropical? Exotic? A camping theme? A destination? Whatever the case may be, choose the theme and “destination” as a family. This will help you best plan the activities of your staycation.

2. Set up the location.

You now want to set up your location based on the theme you chose. For example if you picked tropical, decorate the backyard with a kiddie pool, sand spot, umbrella, colorful plants, etc. If you picked a Paris theme, a bistro set, candles, a small Eiffel tower centerpiece, etc. can all be fun. Think of ways to bring the feeling of the theme to your space and start decorating.

3. Plan your menu.

Create a fun menu based on the theme of your staycation. A tropical staycation might include pineapple, smoothies, and lots of grilling out. A camping theme could include campfire food, while a Parisian theme could include cheese and small appetizers. Plan a menu as a family and get creative with your food.

4. Choose your activities.

Once your theme, location, and menu are in place, choose some simple activities. This could include local sight seeing that goes with the theme or activities and games you can enjoy at home. Pick games and activities that are family friendly and easy! Some suggestions could include a water balloon fight for the tropical theme or a trip to a local art museum for the Paris theme.

5. UNPLUG.

One of the best parts of a staycation is unplugging! Turn off the phones and computers and enjoy your time together as a family. Let family and friends know of your staycation so they can give you space during this time as well.

6. Don’t forget to document your trip!

Don’t forget to take lots of pics so you can always remember your staycation together and all the fun you had. If you wish you can even create a scrapbook when done!

See how simple it can be to plan a family staycation? It is a great way to enjoy some family fun without ever leaving your home. Give these planning trips a try and you can plan a staycation with your family that they will always remember!