Money Saving Tips | Simply Frugal https://www.simplyfrugal.ca Helping you save money in Canada! Mon, 26 Oct 2020 19:25:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/cropped-sf-tree-32x32.jpg Money Saving Tips | Simply Frugal https://www.simplyfrugal.ca 32 32 How to Save Money When You Don’t have Much to Save https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-save-money-when-you-dont-have-much-to-save/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-save-money-when-you-dont-have-much-to-save/#comments Mon, 26 Oct 2020 17:20:40 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=44140 How to start saving money quickly

When it comes to budgeting, the common excuse I hear from people is that they don’t have the extra money to set aside to grow their savings account. Once they get paid, and take care of all of their important bills, there is simply nothing left for them to put into savings. Does this sound like you?

If so, I have a few suggestions for you that will get you saving in no time.

Tip #1 – Always pay yourself first

What do you consider to be an “important bill”? Your mortgage/rent? Your car payment? Insurance? Of course, these are all bills that absolutely must be paid each and every month, but what about the bill of YOU? Aren’t you important?

Growing your savings is so very important for your financial future and you need to make this a priority. Do so by treating your savings as one of those “important bills” that absolutely must be paid each month. Ideally, it should be the very first “bill” you pay so that your brain knows that this bill is important. To make it easy on yourself, set up an automatic withdrawal from your chequing account each month (or week), so that a pre-determined amount of cash goes into your savings account without you having to lift a finger.How to save money, when you don't have much to save in the first place. These helpful suggestions will have you saving money in no time!

Tip #2 – It doesn’t matter how much you save (in the beginning)

The hardest part about saving money is simply getting started. How much should you save will depend greatly on your life goals, but also, on your current financial situation. If you are only working part time, or you are a one-income family, you may not have very much money to save each month. Don’t get discouraged and whatever you do, do NOT say you will “start saving when I make more money”. Save money right now, regardless of how much you make.

Even if you are only saving $5 each week, that’s still $240 a year that normally would have just slipped through your fingers. As you start to bring in more money, you can increase your savings amount, but in the beginning, start small if you have to. Don’t dismiss saving money just because you have a low income.

Tip #3 – Eliminate all unnecessary expenses

This is obvious, but I feel I should mention it anyway, because I know so many people who complain about having no money to save, yet they go out to the movies every weekend, buy new clothes with each paycheck and have a $300 monthly cable bill when they rarely even watch television.

Stop paying for things that are not necessary and save that money instead. Don’t buy new clothes if you already have a closet that is bursting at the seams. You don’t need to completely eliminate cable (unless you want to), but at least scale back on the cable package that you have – why pay for something you’re not using? As for entertainment, stop over-spending. Consider frugal entertainment ideas instead (or in combination), or commit to only going out once or twice per month.

Tip #4 – Make more money

Again, this is obvious, but if you really want to start saving money, you need to seriously consider if it’s worth it for you to start bringing more money home. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take on a second job (although that will help, of course), though.

There are many ways that you can make extra money. If you’re looking for a few ideas, check out this article that I wrote recently: 7 Ways to Earn More Money.

Just because you don’t have a lot of money, doesn’t mean that savings is something you should ignore. You need to start saving money as soon as you start earning it (however young that may be when you start working!). The golden rule is to save a minimum of 10% of your gross income every month, but like I said in tip #2, you don’t have to start saving this much initially.

Start saving whatever you can and gradually increase the amount. The key is to never give up. Never stop saving, no matter what your circumstances may be.

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9 Excellent Black Friday Shopping Tips https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/9-excellent-black-friday-shopping-tips/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/9-excellent-black-friday-shopping-tips/#respond Sun, 25 Oct 2020 08:25:26 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=102300 Excellent Black Friday shopping tips

The biggest shopping day of the year is about to happen in a few weeks. I’m pretty sure it now rivals and perhaps beats out Boxing Day sales in Canada. Black Friday can be a fantastic time to score great deals on Christmas gifts. It can especially be a great time to shop if you know a few tips and tricks to make your shopping successful.

Here are 9 useful Black Friday shopping tips:

Bookmark my giant Black Friday post

Coming up next week, I will have my annual list (it’s giant!) of Canadian Black Friday deals. Simply peruse the list to find the stores that interest you, click the links, then start shopping from the comfort of your own home!

Buy discounted cards for the stores you will be shopping at.

Go shopping with discounted gift cards instead of cash to save yourself some moolah! There are many stores like Real Canadian Superstore/Loblaws, Rexall and Shoppers Drug Mart that offer discounts on gift cards for stores such as Old Navy and Gap during their weekly sales. You might also want to take a look at CardSwap.ca for discounted gift cards.

Ditch the big shopping cart if you’re shopping in-store.

Just don’t even think about getting one of those large cumbersome shopping carts if you plan on shopping in-store. Grab a basket or bring a large reusable shopping bag (IKEA bag anyone?) to avoid collisions or getting stuck in an aisle when you just want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible.

Make your shopping list in order of importance.

Is Santa promising to bring a Lego set this year? You better put that first on your shopping list! By making your shopping list in order of importance, you’re really helping yourself to not forget that all important gift.Black Friday. Perhaps the biggest shopping day of the year is nearly upon us. Be prepared and find excellent Black Friday Shopping tips here!

Sign up for emails for the stores you will be shopping at.

Whether you’re shopping in-store or online it can be extremely valuable to sign up for the email list of the stores you will be shopping at. Almost certainly, they will include coupon codes or coupons you can print/show on your phone for an extra discount. Often times email subscribers can also start shopping the sales earlier online.

Shop online.

The same sales are typically available online too, save for the extreme doorbusters. Save yourself some time and energy by shopping from the comfort of your own home. (This is my preferred method ;))

Join loyalty programs

Might as well join the loyalty programs for the stores you will be shopping at if you haven’t already! Collect points that can translate into free items or even extend certain perks. (I’m thinking the TJX card from Winners.)

Shop online at Amazon.

Because I’m such a fan of online shopping, I usually check Amazon first. Black Friday will be no different because I find that they usually have some great one day deals. Another Amazon tip: Use Honey to track Amazon prices so you can see how today’s Amazon price compares to the last 30 days. You can even use the Droplist feature which allows you to save items you’re interested in and once Honey detects a lower price, they’ll let you know.

Set a budget and stick to it.

You’re really not getting any deals per say, if you put yourself into debt trying to get the latest and greatest thing. If you’ve created a shopping list, it should be easy to stay within budget because you have an idea of the price of each item. Don’t ruin your holidays worrying about debt! There’s rarely any deal that is worth that amount of stress.

Do you shop on Black Friday? I’d love to hear your Black Friday Shopping tips in the comments below.

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3 Easy Ways to Save on Baby Stuff https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/3-easy-ways-to-save-on-baby-stuff/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/3-easy-ways-to-save-on-baby-stuff/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2020 18:01:26 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=32609 How to save on baby stuff

Are you looking for ways to save on baby stuff? If you’re like most parents, it’s likely that you are!

Here are 3 easy ways to save money on items for your new baby:

Save on baby stuff

Buy Used

Purchase used for as many baby items as you can.

You can find fantastic bargains on clothing, toys and even strollers and play pens at yard sales and thrift stores. Facebook marketplace is another great resource for used goods and the way I find most of my used purchases.

The only items you may not want to buy used are a car seat and crib. Those are things you want to invest some money in, since they will be used heavily and safety is a priority.

Borrow

Do you know someone with kids? If so, there’s a good chance they have baby items that they no longer need! Ask if you can borrow those items until your child(ren) no longer need them.

Great items to borrow include play mats, change tables, bassinet, bouncy seat and crib mobile.

Be sure to pay it forward the next time a friend or family member needs baby items!

 If you're like most parents, it's likely that you are wanting to save on baby stuff! Here are 3 easy ways to save money on items for your new baby.

Buy in Bulk

When it comes to things like diapers, wipes and formula, a great way to save is to purchase these items in bulk.

Consider shopping at a wholesale store, such as Costco, to pick up these items.

In addition, watch the sales at your regular grocery and drug stores. There are always coupons available for baby items and when matched with a sale, you can often get these necessities inexpensively.

These are 3 simple ways that you can save money on baby items.

Don’t believe the myth that babies cost you thousands of dollars every year. By being frugal with your purchases, you can easily save quite a bit of cash on the things you need to buy for your child.

I’d love to hear your tips for saving on baby stuff! Let us know in the comments below.

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Great Big List of Free Activities for when You’re Stuck Indoors https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/free-indoor-activities/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/free-indoor-activities/#respond Sun, 15 Mar 2020 20:43:57 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=131391
Here is a great list of free indoor activities and ideas that you can enjoy as a family or even virtually with others!

Throughout these strange and uncertain world events as of late, I have been collecting links to activities and helpful articles. In my online world, I am always amazed to see amazing humans step out and share their knowledge to try to make these, perhaps uncomfortable, days a bit easier. Life is so much better when we can learn to come together, even in unconventional ways. (Separately, in our own homes. LOL)

In these coming weeks, I would highly encourage you to set yourself up to create positive memories to strengthen your relationships. In times of crisis or upheaval, fear and anxiety really don’t serve us well. Take the necessary precautions, find the happy moments, dream together and tell your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them.

With all that said, here is my list of free indoor activities and ideas that you can enjoy as a family or even virtually with others. Make a list of things you want to accomplish as a family or even some projects on your own.

Activities for Kids:

Educational:

For Everyone:

Many churches offer a livestream of their service. Try a local church or perhaps something else from around the world for some encouragement.

I’m also noticing many local stores offering free delivery. Take advantage of this and support your local small businesses!

During this time, food may also be at the forefront of many of our thoughts. Here is another list with helpful articles relating to feeding our families:

And because many of you might be finding yourself a work at home parent now, here are some resources for you:

If you have come across some great free activities or helpful links, please let me know and I’ll get them added to the list!

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Simple Strategies for the Frugal Home Remodel https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/simple-strategies-for-the-frugal-home-remodeler-a-guest-post/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/simple-strategies-for-the-frugal-home-remodeler-a-guest-post/#respond Thu, 05 Mar 2020 22:00:37 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=4620 Whether you’ve recently purchased a home or you’ve been living in it for years, you want it to be a space that is not only functional for your family, but also reflects your style. But remodeling your home can be a pricey thing to do. Luckily, there are several strategies you can implement to make sure your home remodel fits your budget and delivers the best return on investment.

Here are several strategies you can implement to make sure your home remodel fits your budget and delivers the best return on investment!

Chose wisely.

It’s tempting to redo every room, but you’re better off focusing on the essentials. Kitchens and bathrooms can be expensive, but they’re also the best bet to ensure you see a return at the time of sale. (If you are selling.) However, if you have any glaring problems (like water stains on the ceiling) or out-of-place extras (like disco-era wallpaper or a stainless-steel counter top in a cottage-style home), deal with them first.

Keep what works.

You may hate the look of your cabinets, but if they are soundly constructed and meet your spatial needs, give them a cheap facelift with a coat of paint or some new fronts and handles to save hundreds of dollars on custom cabinets.

Go green.

Recycled and reclaimed products (like flooring, cabinets, sinks, and tile) can be purchased for a fraction of the cost, so keep them in use and out of the landfill.

A little hardware goes a long way.

If your house came equipped with copper fittings and the look you crave for your faucets and drawer pulls is brushed nickel, you don’t necessarily have to toss the old ones and start from scratch.  For some items, you can try spray-paint made specifically for use on metal.  Otherwise, consider a swap.  Take your older items (if the condition is good) to a local second hand store like ReStore and see if you can find something you like better. You could always try selling your old hardware to recoup some of the cost of brand new hardware, if you go that route.

Design on a dime.

Any fashion you see in a magazine has a cheap counterpart somewhere in the world, so before you buy a designer brand, look at discount stores and shop around online. You may even find the exact piece you’re wanting for less by checking sites like Craig’s List, eBay or even Facebook Marketplace.

A little common sense can go a long way towards cutting your home remodeling costs, so shop sales, do comparisons, and take time to find the right materials at a better cost. And don’t be afraid to request price-matching or haggle to get the price you want.  After all, it is a vendor’s job to get the maximum amount of profit while you are solely responsible for sticking to your bottom line. It is possible to create your dream home for a lot less cash, and capitalize on your resourcefulness when it comes time to sell, if you follow these simple steps for frugal home remodeling.

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How to Painlessly Save Money https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-painlessly-save-money/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-painlessly-save-money/#comments Sat, 29 Feb 2020 03:30:06 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=11603 How to easily save money

It’s a brand new year.  A time when we all have an excitement for a fresh start.  A time when we decide we’re finally going to get our act together. We start out great, but then we tend to get tired over time and go back to our old ways. Getting financial situations back on track rank high on the “fresh start” list.

Below I’ve listed a bunch of ways to make saving your hard earned cash easier and way less painful!

Set up automatic deposits

Have your bank move a set amount of money automatically into your savings account each month.  Whether it be $50 or $500, if you don’t see the money in the first place, you’ll never miss it!  And at the end of the year you’ll have a very nice amount in your savings account!

Stay home

By staying home more often, you’ll save money on gas, impulse buying and even free up precious time for the things you really want to do!  Let this be a time when you encourage yourself to learn new skills such as learning to make bread from scratch, or learning to recreate your favourite restaurant meal at home, or even learning simple wood working techniques to build a shelf. Involve your children so they learn the value of being creative.This is a great list of 6 ways to painlessly save money! The tips make saving your hard earned cash way easier!

Put extra money into savings

Did you receive a bonus at work? Or a cash gift from Grandma? Why not put it all, or a portion, into your savings account?  Since the money was unexpected in the first place you shouldn’t miss it once it’s safely away in savings.  Just resist the urge to spend it right away on something that caught your eye if you’ve got some financial goals you’d like to accomplish.

Once you’ve finished paying a big bill, put that money into savings

Did you just finish paying off a car loan?  Pretend you haven’t paid it off yet and put that same amount into savings or onto another debt. Be your own bill collector.

Shop for things you need, not for recreation

Recreational shopping used to get me in lot of trouble. I would shop when I was bored. I’d also wonder why I was never saving money and why I never had time to do the things I really wanted to do, like read a book!  Once I stopped treating my boredom with shopping, I discovered the things I really needed to buy were essentials and I discovered ways to occupy myself that made life more meaningful. I stopped cluttering my house up with useless stuff too!

Shop with a “frugal” friend

If you have a tendency to overdo it during your shopping trips. take along a trusted friend that has a more frugal mindset then yourself.  Nothing like a sensible person to reign in your personal spending habits!

Have you got any more recommendations on how to painlessly save money? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Ways to Waste Less in the Kitchen https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/5-ways-to-waste-less-in-the-kitchen/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/5-ways-to-waste-less-in-the-kitchen/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:35:00 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=28539 This post is mainly to get my own butt in gear regarding food waste, but I think many of you could benefit from it as well!  Or at least input some valuable tips for those of us that need some help! 🙂

These days it’s essential to save money on groceries, so here are five tips to make the most of your food and minimize food waste.

5 Ways to Waste Less in the Kitchen

These days it's essential to save money on groceries, so here are five tips to make the most of your food and minimize food waste.

Use what you buy

A very obvious tip, but I too often find produce or other time sensitive ingredients sitting in my fridge on their very last legs. There are some days at the grocery store when I purchase something because it looks good and is on sale. Yes, a spur of the moment purchase, thinking that I can transform it into some tasty meal or snack during the week. The key here, with these purchases, is that I actually have to use the ingredient! So if I don’t have a particular purpose in mind when I buy it, I quite often find it sitting in the fridge rotting away. One way I’d like to help myself with this is to do something with the item right away. Maybe it’s a giant bag of carrots that I could cut up into sticks for easy snacking throughout the week!

Learn to use the ingredients you have

An important factor in my success with using these spur of the moment purchases is learning how to use them. Especially if they’re a bit more unique. I once used a coupon for a free tub of Greek yogurt with the intention of using it in some muffins. But, never having used, or tasted Greek yogurt before, I was unsure if it would be a good replacement for regular plain yogurt. I asked the wonderful people at our Simply Frugal Facebook page how I’d make out if I used it.  They convinced me it would be wonderful and even healthier for us!  That day, I learned some great tips about a product that was unfamiliar to me.

There are many websites out there that allow you to input an ingredient you have on hand, then generate a meal based on your input! Check out SuperCook.com, All Recipes ingredient search, and Kraft Canada.

Make the most of older food

If some of your produce is starting to show its age, don’t throw it out, simply salvage what you can!  This is probably the area I fall the hardest. I have intentions of turning that soft apple into apple sauce, but making it happen is another story. I get lazy 🙁

Here are some suggestions to make the most of older food:

  • Cut around the bad parts
  • Turn stale bread into croutons or breadcrumbs
  • Make apple sauce out of soft apples
  • Puree tomatoes into sauce or salsa
  • Brown bananas are the best for smoothies or baking
  • Old vegetables can be used in soups or stews
  • One bad potato in the bag? Weed out the rotten produce so you don’t contaminate the rest of the lot!

Know what you have

Knowing exactly what you have on hand can save you tons in the grocery budget. Make an effort to regularly go through the contents of your fridge and freezer so that nothing slips by unnoticed. Store things in clear containers so you can see the exact contents at a glance. Label your freezer food well.  Learning to store your produce properly will also ensure nothing goes to waste before you have a chance to use it!

Use the freezer

By now you might have noticed that I’m a big fan of using our freezer. Here are my favourite ways to fill it up with extra food:

  • Freeze any dinner leftovers to make for a super simple meal on a rushed night
  • Put all the end bits of vegetables in a freezer bag to make broth once the bag is full
  • Take advantage of local, seasonal fruit and stock up, but freeze the majority of it for a taste of summer all year long.  Here’s how I freeze peaches if you’re interested!
  • Put any extra wine, broth, tomato paste, lemon/lime juice into ice cube trays to add to meals at a later date.
  • Freeze extra rice to turn into fried rice

What are your tips to make the most of your groceries and leftover food?

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Free Printable Monthly Budget Form https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/free-printable-monthly-budget-form/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/free-printable-monthly-budget-form/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2020 23:58:23 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=79101 If you are struggling with getting your budget under control, then you’ll want to download this free monthly budget form right away!

If you are struggling with getting your budget under control, then you’ll want to download this free monthly budget form!

There are spaces to add your income and expenses, a place to record your savings goals (for example, if you are saving up for a vacation, you can write down your progress each month), and a place to write down any notes related to you spending. Having everything on one sheet of paper should be helpful for you!

To get a copy of this free monthly budget form, simply enter your email address below:

(Make sure to check your email inbox to get your link to the form!)

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When You Are Tired of Being Frugal https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/when-you-are-tired-of-being-frugal/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/when-you-are-tired-of-being-frugal/#comments Sun, 23 Feb 2020 20:52:36 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=89436 Creative solutions for frugal fatigue

We live a frugal lifestyle. For the most part we are okay with it, and even thrive with this lifestyle, but sometimes it can be exhausting. Sometimes we get tired of making meals from scratch, cutting coupons, price matching, and doing whatever we need to do just to save some money. Sometimes we just want to throw caution to the wind and buy some brand new furniture for our house, or put a vacation on a credit card, or eat out as a family at some local restaurants. In those moments it can be easy to throw our hands up in the air and say “I don’t care” and make careless decisions. But in the end we would regret those decisions. So what should you do in those situations?

1. Treat yourself to something SMALL and AFFORDABLE.

The other day we went out for “Loonie Shakes.” Under 5 dollars for milkshakes for our family, yet it still felt like a splurge for our family.

2. Remind yourself of your goals.

On the inside of my wallet is a piece of paper I taped to it that says “Do you want more stuff, or do you want to travel?” so that every time I open up my wallet to buy something on impulse, I am reminded of my goals.

3. Take a social media break.

Sites like Facebook can heighten our desire to spend our money on things we can’t afford when it may feel like everyone else around us are able to make those purchases at the drop of a dime. But the truth is, you don’t know the back story of the pictures you see on Facebook. You don’t know if they’ve been saving for months or years to make that purchase, or if they are up late at night stressed at how they are going to make payments on their purchases they bought on credit. So give your heart a break and turn off the social media.

4. Do something fun that is free.

Invite some friends over for coffee and board games, go for a nature walk on a nearby trail, go star gazing, or go for a bike ride. Finding some free fun will remind yourself that life can still be fun on a budget.

Related: 36 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money

5. Browse the internet for inspiration.

Read frugal living blogs. One search on Pinterest will reveal tons of articles written by people who have successfully conquered their financial dreams by living a frugal life. When you are starting to feel like you can’t live frugally anymore you will be able to draw strength, motivation, and inspiration from these articles.

Remember that “this too shall pass.” These feelings of fatigue will end, and if you stick with your budget and your saving goals, you WILL reap the benefits.

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How To Make A Budget That Works For You https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-make-a-budget-that-works-for-you/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-make-a-budget-that-works-for-you/#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 17:00:00 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=126804 Most people have difficulty creating a budget and actually sticking to it. That’s because it can get pretty restrictive and time consuming. The good news is, you don’t have to make it hard. You can find ways of making a budget that works for you. 

Instead of focusing on your expenses, try instead to concentrate on your savings. This process of reverse budgeting lets you figure out how much you need to save every month. Once you are able to figure this out, you can then set it up so that you have that amount going into your savings account automatically. That way it’s sort of like “out of sight out of mind” and you don’t really miss it or end up using it.

Here are some tips on how you can create a budget that works for you:

How to make a budget

Goals

Before coming up with a budget, it’s important that you write down your short term goals. Doing this will increase your chances of success. This is because when you write down your short term goals, you’ll be able to fully understand the big picture. You get to see what it is you are saving up for and how you can accomplish that goal in the future. 

Start by writing your goals out. You can do this for the next 3 or 6 months, 1 year, or even 5 years or more, it’s up to you what fits your needs. Remember to include the date you want to complete them along with the expected cost. After you have written down your goals, that’s when you can determine how much money you need to set aside on a monthly basis. Here’s an example:

By simply dividing the cost of the goal with the months you have available to complete the goal.

Cost of goal: $2000
Months to complete goal: 12
$2000 divided by 12 = $166.66
So you need to save $166.66 each month for 12 months to reach that $2000 goal.

The next task is to number the goals by assessing their priority. 

You can also do the same for your intermediate term goals and long term goals. Remember that if you are unable to meet the monthly savings needed to complete your short term goals after figuring out your expenses, you may need to reevaluate the things that are important to you and make necessary adjustments. What you don’t want to do is quit. You want to adjust. You can do this, but be realistic when setting your goals.

Most people have difficulty creating a budget and actually sticking to it. The good news is, you can find ways of making a budget that works for you with these helpful tips!

Automatic Savings

It is a wise idea to set up an automatic withdrawal from your main account or paycheck that goes directly into your savings account. This way, you won’t have to withdraw the money from your bank which can make it tempting to spend on unnecessary items. 

When you’re opening a new bank account to do this, make sure that you choose an account that will earn you a higher interest rate. This is because you won’t be touching the money for a long period of time. If you let the interest accrue, it means that your funds will grow as long as you leave them in the bank. 

As soon as the account has been opened, and you have your expenses figured out, set up an automatic monthly withdrawal with the amount that meets your goals. Then forget about it.  Use your regular method of paying bills and ignore this new account so that it can grow and not be used as a backup and you’ll be on your way to meeting your savings goals in no time flat.

Trying to make another person’s budget and lifestyle work for you is probably setting yourself up for failure. You have to find something that works for you. Be kind and understanding to yourself. If you fall, get back up and keep going! Just. Don’t. Quit.

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6 Ways Being Organized Helps to Save Money https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/52-ways-to-save-get-organized/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/52-ways-to-save-get-organized/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2020 17:00:04 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=81971 The more I think about it, I really think that being organized is the key to saving money.  Not only does my sanity thrive when things are organized in my home, I find our bank account is happier too. 🙂

Here are 6 ways being organized helps to save me money:

The more I think about it, I really think that being organized is the key to saving money.  Not only does my sanity thrive when things are organized, I find our bank account is happier too. Here are 6 ways being organized helps to save money.

Know what I already own

Having a spot for everything will help ensure that you know what you have on hand at all times. No need to buy the beans that are on sale because you know that you already have plenty in the pantry! Being organized (or more organized because we can’t be perfect!) stops you from spending money to replace items you can’t find.

I’ll avoid late fees

When you have an organized system in place for paying bills and returning borrowed items on time, you’ll certainly avoid the ugly late fees. Avoid paying late fees by implementing a system that will work for you. I have to tell you a story about the one time I had a late fee on the Visa bill. My bill paying “system” is not how my husband would do it and he suggested I try it his way.  His way was to pay off an amount as soon as there was a balance. My way is to pay it once a month on the due date, the balance of the statement in full. As soon as I receive the statement in the mail, I log into our online banking and schedule the payment to be made on the due date. Sure, it may be a larger amount doing it my way, but I’m never late in paying it! My husband has learned to just let me do my thing in that regard. 😉

Have time to plan a menu

When you’re organized, you’ll have time to set aside to plan the menu for the week. I’m a firm believer that having a menu plan in place will save you unnecessary trips to the grocery store and your sanity.  In our case, it saves us a ton because we’re avoiding the drive thru and actually eating what we buy from the grocery store.

Have time to cut and use coupons

If you’re a coupon user, being organized means you most likely have some time set aside for printing and organizing your coupons. Which also means you are probably organized to use the coupons at the store to pay rock bottom prices!

Know what projects you have on the go

Let’s pretend that I don’t know all about incomplete projects. (you know, those unfinished sewing and knitting projects that I found…) Every once in a while I get an urge to do something creative. But when I take the opportunity to have an organizing session, I usually discover a few unfinished projects.

Most recently, as I was going through my fabric stash, I found two unfinished projects.  A purse, which only needs to have the handles sewn on, and material for a sweatshirt I’ve cut out for my husband.   I now have two projects to finish to satisfy my creative urge without spending any more money!

Buy gifts well in advance

When you’re on the ball with upcoming special occasions, you can buy ahead when you find a great deal online or in the store. Helping you to avoid paying full price for something near your deadline.

How does being organized save you money? In what ways would you like to be more organized so you can save more?

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I’m Wondering: What Are Some Items You Don’t Mind Paying More For? https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/im-wondering-what-are-some-items-you-dont-mind-paying-more-for/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/im-wondering-what-are-some-items-you-dont-mind-paying-more-for/#respond Thu, 30 Jan 2020 18:02:00 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=39764

I recently got to thinking about some of the items I don’t mind paying more for if it means better quality.  Outerwear and most footwear would be on my list.  I would consider those investments that I can make use of for several seasons.  But, even then, I try to get a deal! So….

I’m Wondering:  What are some items you don’t mind paying more for?  Would you ever pay full price?

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How to Sell Your Clutter for Cash https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-sell-stuff-online/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-sell-stuff-online/#comments Sun, 26 Jan 2020 17:59:07 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=46348 Something I like to do on a semi regular basis, is to purge some of the stuff in our home that is not needed anymore.  Although there always seems to be some sort of mess around these parts, extra clutter drives me crazy.  But before I haul everything off to the thrift store, I set aside anything I think I could sell online; it’s always nice to earn bit of extra spending money!

How to Sell your Clutter for Cash

How to sell stuff online. Before you donate your unwanted stuff, turn your clutter into cash by learning how to sell it online!

While I’m a fan of the traditional garage sale, selling some of our old things online is really gaining popularity in my books.  I’ve found it to be less work and I tend to make more money than if I were to sell the items in a garage sale.

I’ve been dabbling a fair bit with some local Facebook Buy & Sell sites, so that’s where I have most of my experience. But Craigslist and Kijiji are also great free options for selling your stuff online.  Although, I’ve found that small items typically don’t sell well with Craigslist and Kijiji so that’s why I’ve been sticking with these Buy & Sell Facebook groups. Ebay is also a great option is you have brand name items and collector items to sell.

Here are some tips to help you sell stuff online through Craigslist/Kijiji, Facebook and eBay:

Research

Spend some time taking a look at items similar to what you want to sell to get an idea of what you should price your item at.  It might also be a good idea to research some of the details you think buyers might want to know. (ie: dimensions, special features…etc.)

Price Your Item Well

If you simply want to get rid of stuff quickly, price your stuff quite low.  If earning a bit of money is your goal, price your items by what you see similar items selling for.  Quite often I’ll price something a bit higher then what I’m willing to take because it’ll be a bonus if someone does purchase it at my asking price. But I know people like to barter to get a lower price.  They’ll feel like they’re getting a deal and I’m happy I was able to earn some decent spending money!

Take Good Photos

Having good, clear photos with your item is fairly crucial if you want to sell it quickly.  Here are some basic tips for taking a good picture:

  • Find good lighting. Try to take your pictures in natural light. In a dark room, the photo won’t show clearly, and artificial light can change the color of the item.
  • Clean the item. Make sure you give the item a good wipe down or wash to show off the condition.
  • Create a clear background. Place the item in an area of your home or yard that is free of  clutter.  You want to make it clear what you’re selling so don’t let any other distracting items show up in the photo.
  • Take several shots. Take at least one shot from every angle.

Choose the Right Category for your Item

To make your item easy to find, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right category to list your item under. After all, no one is going to look for a car in the Housing category!

Write a Clear Headline

In the headline, I like to include what it is and the price.  For example:  Fisher Price Jumparoo, $40.  Having a good headline is important because it’s the first thing people see about your ad and it’s how buyers search for items they want.

Write a Good Description

In your description, you’ll want to include:

  1. What you’re selling. Start the ad by explaining what your item is.
  2. Item’s condition. Briefly explain the condition of the item. Make a note of any damages.
  3. Technical details. Include as many technical details as you can about the item.
  4. Price. Don’t forget to state the price again. Be sure to include whether you’re firm in your price or willing to take a best offer.
  5. Your contact information. At the bottom of your ad, note your preferred method of contact.

Be Safe

Once you have your ad up and running, and you have your buyer, you’ll want to meet in a safe place.  If I’m home alone, I like to arrange a public place for item pick-up.  I try to plan it with an errand I’m already running to save running around all over town. (This one doesn’t really apply to items you sell though eBay since you’re shipping the items to the mailing address your buyer provided.)

The Best time to use:

Craigslist/Kijiji

Craigslist and Kijiji are great options for selling furniture, toys, vehicles and household items.  My husband has had great success selling a couple of vehicles. I have had success with selling some furniture we no longer need.  It’s free to list your items, so there really isn’t any reason not to try a handful of items!

eBay

eBay is the best option for selling popular brand name items such as Coach, Kate Spade and the like that are in excellent condition. High value collector items or hard to find items are also a great match for eBay.  It’s free to list items on eBay but you are required to pay a commission if your item sells.

Facebook Buy & Sell Groups

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Facebook buy & sell groups.  After all, these Facebook groups are easy to use and are free to join and list. I’ve had great success selling baby items, household stuff, outerwear and books. Search for a local buy & sell group, then ask to join. I’m fairly certain that these groups are in almost every city these days. You’ll want to be sure to read the rules of each group so you don’t end up with your listings being deleted by the administrators. (They set rules to cut down on some of the clutter that posting many items by so many people can cause.)

I’ve created, what I hope will be useful, a Stuff For Sale printable that you can use to keep track of your items as you sell them.  Because I use Facebook groups mostly, that’s how I structured this printable:
Stuff to Sell Printable{Get your Stuff for Sale Printable here}

Have you ever sold anything online?  Will you be giving it a try?  What are your tips for selling, or even buying online?

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25 Dollar Store Stocking Stuffers https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/dollar-store-stocking-stuffers/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/dollar-store-stocking-stuffers/#respond Mon, 02 Dec 2019 17:59:15 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=64529 The dollar store is a great place to get many practical, quirky and fun things. Household goods, decorations, gifts, you name it, you can probably find it at a dollar store! Because there is so much to find at dollar stores, it only makes sense that you can find some pretty great stocking stuffers too! Best of all, most things cost only $1.00!

Favorite Dollar Store Stocking Stuffers:

  1. Hand Sanitizer
  2. Travel Size Tissue
  3. Chewing Gum
  4. Mini Notebook
  5. Holiday Pencils
  6. Holiday Erasers
  7. Travel Size Lotion
  8. Coloring Books
  9. Candy Bars
  10. Lip balm
  11. Socks
  12. Hair accessories
  13. Nail Polish
  14. Nail Files
  15. Miniature Toy Cars
  16. Playing Cards
  17. Mini Washi Tape Rolls
  18. Crayons
  19. Chalk
  20. Bubbles
  21. Stickers
  22. Key Chains
  23. Snack Size Chips, Crackers, Cookies
  24. Assorted Kid’s Craft Supplies
  25. Night Lights

What are some other dollar store stocking stuffer ideas?  Share them in the comments!

Stocking Stuffers don't have to be expensive! Dollar stores are a great place to look for fun surprises for everyone. Here are some of my favorites!

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How to take money from your RRSP without paying tax https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-take-money-from-your-rrsp-without-paying-tax/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-take-money-from-your-rrsp-without-paying-tax/#comments Mon, 18 Nov 2019 15:00:42 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=129155 This post is a sponsored post written by Sun Life Financial. See my disclosure policy here.

Sometimes, you CAN take money out of your RRSP without penalty. But you have to pay your RRSP back – or pay the tax.

Sometimes, you CAN take money out of your RRSP without penalty. But you have to pay your RRSP back – or pay the tax.

Are you looking at a major expense you didn’t see coming? Short of available cash? Perhaps you’re thinking about tapping your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). It’s your money, after all, so why not?

Here are three good reasons why not.

1. You’ll owe tax

The first is the tax bill. Since you used pre-tax income when you put money in your RRSP, you’ll have to pay tax when you take it out. And while there’s no tax on investment growth inside your RRSP, you’re taxed when it comes out. RRSPs make sense because you’ll typically cash them in after you retire. That’s when your income and your tax bracket will likely be lower. You’ll still pay tax, but you’ll pay less. If you take the money now, while you’re working, you’ll face more in taxes.

2. You’ll miss out on investment growth

The second reason is lost investment growth. Every dollar you take from your RRSP is a dollar less to build up through compounding. So that little nibble from your plan today could mean a big bite missing from your savings come retirement.

3. You’ll use up contribution room

And the third reason: When you take money from your RRSP, putting it back generally uses up your contribution room. What’s contribution room?  Each year you can put as much as 18% of your earned income from the previous year into your RRSP, up to an annual maximum. The difference between your limit and what you actually put in your RRSP is the unused contribution room. You can carry that forward to use another year. Unused contribution room plus your annual maximum becomes your total contribution room. But whatever you put in your RRSP – replacing a temporary withdrawal or making a brand-new contribution – can use up contribution room. Let’s say you take $5,000 out of your RRSP this year and plan to pay your RRSP back next year. That repayment will reduce your contribution room by $5,000.

There are two ways to avoid paying tax on RRSP withdrawals, without using up contribution room:

  1. Use your RRSP to help buy your first home, or
  2. Use it to go back to school.

What’s the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)?

Are you a first-time homebuyer living in Canada? If so, you can borrow up to $35,000 from your RRSP to put towards a down payment. If you and your spouse are buying together, that’s $70,000 you could use for your home.

The HBP lets you take out the money tax-free. But there’s a catch: You have to pay it back in equal installments over 15 years. Any year you don’t pay the full installment, you have to pay income tax on the outstanding balance. You’ll also lose the chance for that money to grow within your RRSP.

Thinking of using the HBP? When you’re crunching the numbers, be sure to include the RRSP repayments along with your mortgage payments.

What’s the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)?

This is another way to take tax-free money from your RRSP:

  • Take out up to $10,000 a year, for a total of $20,000.
  • You can spread those withdrawals over a maximum of four years.
  • Use that money for full-time education or training for yourself, your spouse or partner. 
  • As with the HBP, you need to repay your RRSP or pay income tax on your withdrawal.
  • With the LLP, you have 10 years to repay your RRSP in equal installments.

What about the tax-free savings account (TFSA)?

You might need money for anything at all – not only buying a home or going to school. An option is your TFSA. You don’t pay tax on TFSA withdrawals for any purpose. You’ll still lose potential investment growth while your money is out of the account. But your contribution limit will grow back. Whatever you take out gets added to what you can put in the following year. You can pay your TFSA back according to your own schedule.

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10 Ways in 10 Days to Earn Money for the Holidays https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-ways-in-10-days-to-earn-money-for-the-holidays/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-ways-in-10-days-to-earn-money-for-the-holidays/#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2019 19:30:36 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=102364 Smart ways to earn money for the holidays

I’ve got something fun planned for you all. I’d love for you to join me in the 10 Ways in 10 Days to Earn Money for the Holidays email series!

This time of year should be a time of celebration and happiness, not one that is dreaded! Trying to figure out how to come up with extra ways to earn money for this season can be difficult. Luckily, we can do it together!

Instead of blowing your budget or going into debt, 10 Ways in 10 Days will help you find new ways to stash away cash for your upcoming expenses.

You will receive 1 email per day for 10 days with a new idea each day, starting the day after you sign up.

If you know anyone else who could use help saving money for the holidays then share this page with them so they can join the challenge with you!

Instead of blowing your budget this holiday season, learn smart ways to earn money for the holidays with this great, ten day email series! You will find new ways to stash away cash for your upcoming Christmas expenses.

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October Money Saving Calendar https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/october-money-saving-calendar/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/october-money-saving-calendar/#respond Tue, 01 Oct 2019 21:08:38 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=128108

Happy October! Get ready for the quickest blog post ever that will save you a TON of money!

It’s a new month and I’m trying something new for you guys. I thought it would be fun to create a calendar each month with a super easy money saving tip each day of the month.

So this month, you get the NEW Money Saving Calendar for October 2019!

You can grab your calendar for FREE here.

I’d love to know what you think of this and if you think I should keep doing them each month for you!

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Fall Bucket List for Frugal People https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/fall-bucket-list-for-frugal-people/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/fall-bucket-list-for-frugal-people/#comments Tue, 17 Sep 2019 21:15:00 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=127815 The best fall bucket list

Create the BEST Fall Bucket List with these ideas. These ideas are perfect for frugal people, who are looking for free or low cost activities to do this fall.

Fall is nearly here! One of my favorite seasons (besides Christmas time) is Fall! I love the comfort food, the way the light changes in the evening, the crisp fall air, and warm, cozy sweaters. Along with those things, Fall is a great time to do fun, frugal activities specific to the season.

Here is a Fall Bucket List for Frugal People that you are going to love! There are plenty of ideas to fill up your fall calendar with frugal fun.

  1. Go to a Pumpkin Patch.
  2. Have a pumpkin carving contest with friends/family.
  3. Find fall festivals and harvest events happening in your area.
  4. Go to a local apple orchard to pick delicious apples.
  5. Go for a hike. The temperature will be much more bearable than in the summer time!
  6. Try Halloween themed cookies. Like Oreos. You can only get them this time of year.
  7. Try using fallen leaves in one of these ways.
  8. Go to a thrift store to find your Halloween costumes.
  9. Make apple crisp! This recipe is amazing!
  10. Throw a football watching party. To save money, make it a potluck and have everyone bring something.
  11. Make your own fall wreath.
  12. Make a pot of chili.
  13. Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte or apple cider.
  14. Make a Frugal Fall bracelet.
  15. Go through a corn maze.
  16. Take your own fall pictures.
  17. Rake up the leaves into big piles, then jump in them!
  18. Make a scarf out of an old sweater.
  19. Have a Halloween (or Fall) movie night at home.
  20. Bake pumpkin cookies.
  21. Visit your local library and check out some fall themed books.
  22. Check the kids’ school calendars to see what free family-friendly events are coming up.
  23. Attend a high school football game.
  24. Volunteer.
  25. Go geocaching
  26. Take a scenic drive around your city.
  27. Visit your local farmer’s market.
  28. Try a new soup recipe.
  29. Host a fall brunch, pot-luck style.
  30. Light fall candles around the house.
  31. Decorate your home with a few Fall decor items from the dollar store.
  32. Help a neighbor rake their leaves.
  33. Make a batch of these Fall M&M Monster Cookies.
  34. Create your own haunted house.
  35. Make your own Halloween costumes.
  36. Check your city’s website, you will find a ton of free events and activities happening around you.
  37. Knit a fall scarf.
  38. Write little happy fall notes to your friends.
  39. Decorate your porch with fall foliage from the neighborhood.
  40. Toast pumpkin seeds.
  41. Have a fall canning party.
  42. Go on a hayride at a local farm.
  43. Eat dinner by candle light.
  44. Have a nap!
  45. Make Pumpkin Butter
Create the BEST Fall Bucket List with these ideas. These ideas are perfect for frugal people, who are looking for free or low cost activities to do this fall.
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How To Cut Your Grocery Bill Without Sacrificing https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-cut-your-grocery-bill-without-sacrificing/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-cut-your-grocery-bill-without-sacrificing/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2019 21:21:59 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=127167 Did you know that with just a little bit of prep work and an open mind you may have the possibility of cutting your grocery bill in half?

It’s totally possible to eat better quality, healthy food while spending less on groceries. Here are some ways for you to cut your grocery bill without sacrificing taste or your health.

It's totally possible to eat better quality, healthy food while spending less on groceries. Here are some ways for you to cut your grocery bill without sacrificing taste or your health.

Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time

I have many articles about meal planning, but this is because I can’t stress enough how important meal planning is. Especially if you want to cut down your grocery bill.

There are two ways to go about meal planning. You can plan meals based on what you already have at home or plan based on what is on sale in the flyers at your local stores. The first option would be your cheapest option since you’re using ingredients you have already purchased. It’s still quite possible that you will have to fill in missing ingredients with a trip to the store.

If you go with the second option, you can then plan and base your meals on the sale items. Most of the sale items will be in season so your meals will be too. By planning your meals to match what’s on sale, you’ll be surprised at how much that will cut from your grocery budget.

Take Advantage Of Coupons

The great thing about coupons and couponing is that you’ll never have to shop and pay full price for your groceries, it really becomes a fun game when you’re paying less than full price for your items. So, take advantage of all the coupons you can use to get discounts on grocery items.

You can start collecting coupons from your local newspaper or even from mobile phone apps. There are also websites like Simply Frugal that lists all the most recent Canadian coupons.

Purchase Generic Items

Name brand items can be really eye-catching but they can also have the ability to empty your pockets as well. Often the only difference between a grocery’s brand-name product and a store-brand product is the packaging.

If you take a closer look at the list of ingredients, in most cases, you’ll actually see that they are nearly identical. It’s just the price that’s different. So, before you take that name brand item off the shelf, do your research and you’ll definitely be rewarded with the best deal.

Tip:  Ingredients are listed in order of the amount in the item, so if sugar is the first ingredient in your cereal, you know there’s more sugar in it than anything else in the box. So, when checking ingredients between generic and brand name, be sure they are listed in the same order to ensure you’re getting the same “taste”. This is always a great way to determine which version is the more healthy version, if that is your goal with ingredients.

Buy In-Season Fruits And Veggies

Sometimes you just want to satisfy a craving with out of season fruits and veggies but to really make a dent in your grocery bill, you’ll want to purchase in season produce.

Out of season fruits and veggies will definitely be more expensive because they cost more and take more effort when they are not in season.

Plant A Garden

Growing your own food is the best way to go when you really want to lower your expenses and save money on your grocery bill. A great example is having your own herb garden.

If you buy a bunch of herbs they can be expensive and you may only need them for a meal or two (this is again where meal planning can be helpful). But if you have some potted herbs in your garden or kitchen, you’ll save a lot of money and have those herbs at your fingertips anytime you need them. Plus fresher always tastes better.

Cutting your grocery bill without sacrificing is definitely doable. It will just require you to make a few changes and find what works for you and your family. Taking control of how your money is spent and saved is a great feeling when you’re trying to stay within a budget.

Do you have some tips you can share to help cut the grocery bill? Please tell us in the comments below.


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10 Reusable Household Items that Will Save You Money https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-reusable-household-items-that-will-save-you-money/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-reusable-household-items-that-will-save-you-money/#comments Sat, 31 Aug 2019 02:49:41 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=127419 The Best Reusable Household Products

One of the ways I began to save extra money was by ditching some of the disposable products we used in our home and replacing them with reusable household items.  

In the beginning, this did cost us a few more dollars but quickly turned into big savings each month we weren’t purchasing the disposable versions!

Now, I know the appeal of disposable items. They can be so gosh darn convenient! But by simply switching out one disposable product for a reusable product, not only will it have a positive impact on our planet, it will also have a positive impact on your wallet! Before you know it, you’ll be trying to replace every household product with a reusable one!

Below, I’ve listed the best reusable household items that we’ve been loving in our own home lately! 

Wool Dryer Balls

For years now I have been using wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets and fabric softener. In fact it’s been a while since I bought my wool dryer balls so they’re finally starting to fall apart!

If I ever feel like having a bit of a scent to the laundry, I’ll add a couple drops of essential oil to a couple of the balls.

When purchasing wool dryer balls, make sure they are 100% wool. This will ensure fluffiness, reduce static and reduce drying time.

Reusable Water bottles

Before we leave the house, I make sure all of our reusable water bottles are filled up so we can avoid buying a bottle of water when we’re out and about.

While any reusable water bottle will work, our favorites are the ones that are insulated. They keep water cold for much longer! My husband and I are using these bottles while I like the Thermos ones for our daughters.

Kitchen towels

Ditch the paper towels once and for all! I have one roll of paper towel on hand and that is to check the oil in our vehicles and for wiping up cooking grease. Other than that I use kitchen towels, cloths, and big bath towels for cleaning up spills, and wiping dirty fingers and faces. Basically reusable towels are used for everything paper towels are typically used for.

I also still use those baby wash cloths all. the. time for cleaning up messes, wrapping freezies and even wiping out their Wipe Clean activity books.

By simply switching out one disposable product for a reusable product, not only will it have a positive impact on our planet, it will also have a positive impact on your wallet!

Reusable straws

It’s so easy to make the switch to reusable straws! We’ve got two different kinds that we use at home. Stainless steel and super fun silicone ones. I don’t have a preference, but my daughters like the silicone ones the best. Probably because they’re soft and fun colored.

Be sure to get a small straw brush to keep you straws clean!

Reusable K-Cup

We were gifted a Keurig coffee maker years ago and it’s still one of our favorite appliances and gets daily use. The one thing I don’t like about it is the k-cup waste. However, we recently switched to a reusable K-Cup and love it! It’s so easy to use and the coffee tastes just as good. Plus now we can get a big bag of ground coffee beans (cost effective) or use the locally roasted beans that we love.

Reusable shopping bags

Now that most grocery stores are charging for plastic grocery bags, I want to avoid that unnecessary expense as much as I can! I have reusable grocery bags stashed in the car and both of my bags in hopes that I won’t have to use a plastic bag.

The reusable shopping bags that I have are similar to these ones and fold up really small and are so easy to stash in my bags. I love that they are washing machine friendly so I can toss them in the wash once in while!

Silicone baking mats

With silicone baking mats, there’s no need to spray your cooking sheets or use parchment paper. That means you could possibly eliminate two grocery items from your list saving you a bundle in the long term.

Silicone baking mats are really easy to clean and hardly take up any space in your cupboards.

Mason jars

Open up the cupboards or even your fridge and you’re bound to find some sort of glass jar! Wash and reuse the glass jars that you find for so many things. I use mine for storing dried beans/lentils/rice, freezing broth, holding makeup brushes and so much more.

Mason jars are fairly inexpensive to buy if you want matching jars. Scour the garage sales too!

Reusable Sandwich Bags

This is a new purchase for us and I’m loving it! I used to wash our plastic sandwich a few times before tossing them, but I’m liking this alternative way better.

These reusable storage bags are freezer friendly, leak-proof, come in various sizes and clean easily.

Travel Mugs

These are a must-have in our family! Every morning, instead of hitting the drive thru, my husband makes a travel mug full of coffee for his morning at work. Saves a ton of coffee money over the long run! I’ll bring mine along when I’ve got a bunch of errands to do. But even if you do go to a coffee shop or something, many places offer a small discount if you bring your own mug. (Starbucks, for example.)

Using these reusable household items is such a great way to begin moving towards a more eco-conscious way of living plus you’ll be saving a lot of money over the long term!

I’d love to know what you would add to the list!

Related articles:

Reusable household items that will save you money

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50 Things to Occupy The Kids this Summer https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/50-things-to-do-with-your-kids-this-summer/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/50-things-to-do-with-your-kids-this-summer/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2019 03:00:17 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=18770 Summer vacation doesn’t have to equal boredom. Here are 50 fun ideas to help occupy the kids this summer.

Summer vacation doesn't have to equal boredom. Here are 50 fun ideas to help occupy the kids this summer.

Summer vacation is nearly upon us.  Here are some ideas that I came up with to help occupy kids throughout July and August!  (Or when ever they’re looking for something to do!)  Most of the ideas are free or nearly free!

  1. Make Fudgesicles or popsicles
  2. Wash the car(s)
  3. Run through the sprinklers
  4. Have a picnic in the park
  5. Backyard camping
  6. Outdoor movie nights. If you don’t have a free movie night in your area, make your own.
  7. Make giant bubbles
  8. Go on a hike
  9. Create your own treasure hunt
  10. Have a side walk chalk contest
  11. Create your own puppet show
  12. Use a Slip and Slide
  13. Have a library day.  Get books or take part in story time!
  14. Go fly a kite
  15. Play with animals at your local SPCA. Some are willing to have you walk the dogs.
  16. Make your own play dough or Slime.
  17. Go for a bike ride
  18. Stargaze
  19. Collect bugs
  20. Have a lemonade stand
  21. Tie dye some shirts
  22. Paint rocks
  23. Build a fort or tree house
  24. Write a pen pal
  25. Have a pillow fight
  26. Attend free concerts in the park
  27. Wake up early to watch the sunrise
  28. Do one of the activities in the Summer Bucket of Fun
  29. Try geocaching
  30. Have a craft day
  31. Start a journal
  32. Feed the ducks
  33. Do some face painting with the neighbor kids
  34. Bake and decorate cookies
  35. Have a movie night
  36. Teach your kids how to budget
  37. Visit a local farm
  38. Go fishing
  39. Take a walking tour of your town
  40. Play board games
  41. Make and decorate paper mache masks
  42. Learn to skip rocks
  43. Make S’Mores
  44. Play tennis
  45. Build paper boats to race down the street when it rains
  46. Visit the swimming pool
  47. Go on a nature walk
  48. Create a vegetable garden (I used to love having my own corner of my Mom’s garden to grow my own things!)
  49. Visit the zoo
  50. Finger paint

What else do your kids like to do?  What are your favourite boredom busting ideas?

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The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/the-ultimate-frugal-okanagan-summer-activity-guide/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/the-ultimate-frugal-okanagan-summer-activity-guide/#comments Mon, 03 Jun 2019 18:00:54 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=59432

This was such a big hit in past years, 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:

Looking for deals?

Groupon has a ton of local discounted restaurants, spas, things to do and more! Check it out for great savings on the things you want to do in the Okanagan.

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Reader Question – What are Your Must-Haves in your Pantry? https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/reader-question-what-are-your-must-haves-in-your-pantry/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/reader-question-what-are-your-must-haves-in-your-pantry/#comments Thu, 16 May 2019 14:45:24 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=31262 Simply Frugal reader question

Here’s a question from Christine:

Here is what I would like to know: a friend of mine is trying to start a pantry or a stockpile so that she is not constantly out of everything and so that she can maybe save a bit of money.

What would you consider your must-haves in your pantry?  What staples do you always have on hand?

Do you have a question you would like to ask the readers of Simply Frugal?  Send your question along to us here.

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How to Build a Kid’s Wardrobe Cheaply https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-build-a-kids-wardrobe-cheaply/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-build-a-kids-wardrobe-cheaply/#respond Fri, 05 Apr 2019 18:13:28 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=46151 Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about building my daughters’ wardrobes 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 buying clothes can become quite expensive. But, by planning ahead and taking these tips into consideration, you’ll be sure to build your children’s wardrobes cheaply.

Kids grow so fast so these are fantastic tips on how to build a kid's wardrobe cheaply.

Accept Hand-Me Downs

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!

Buy off the Clearance Racks

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 stores to shop at for clearance prices is the Joe Fresh section in our local Superstore and Old Navy.

Shop online

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! I also enjoy shopping online at The Children’s Place and Joe Fresh.

Buy used

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? 

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7 Ways to Earn More Money https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/6-ways-to-earn-more-money/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/6-ways-to-earn-more-money/#comments Sun, 24 Feb 2019 21:25:29 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=43685 While spending less is often the best thing to do financially, sometimes it’s good to earn more money if it means it will push you closer to your financial dreams faster.

But before you get excited about the idea of earning more money, it’s important to make sure you manage the money you already have well.  If you’re financially strapped, there’s no point in earning extra cash if you’re just going to spend more money for short term satisfaction.  Focus on getting a monthly budget figured out and learn how to maximize the money you already have before you go out and try to make more money.

Once you have that out of the way, you can read these ideas to help you earn extra money:

While spending less is often the best thing to do financially, sometimes it's good to earn more money if it means it will push you closer to your financial dreams faster. Here are 7 Ways to Earn More Money. #earnmoney #incomeideas

Earn money from your hobbies

I’m sure many of you have a hobby that you enjoy and are quite good at!  Why not turn that hobby into extra income?  Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Teach coupon classes
  • Do surveys through Survey Junkie or Opinion Outpost (US only)
  • Sell your photos if you’re into photography
  • Teach art classes, either privately or at a local craft store
  • Sell your work at craft shows or on etsy
  • Design pieces on commission
  • Earn Cash-Back for shopping like you normally do with Paymi (Canada only)
  • Sell your baking during coffee breaks to local businesses
  • Enter your work in contests with cash prizes
  • Paint business windows for the holidays

Bonus idea: If you love visiting websites or blogs, sign up for UserTesting. You’ll be paid $10 for each website or app that you complete a set of tasks on while speaking your thoughts out loud.

Sell things you no longer need

Clear up some space in your home by selling things you no longer need or care for.  Have a garage sale or try selling items on Kijiji, Craigslist, or eBay.  Or give a Buy & Sell group on Facebook a try.

Rent out your space

If your home has an extra bedroom or empty space, you could become a landlord. Students and recent graduates are often especially eager for affordable and small spaces to call “home”. Your extra garage space might also be perfect for someone needing to store their collector car, for example.

Try a paper route

Earn a bit of extra money by doing a paper route.  Get some fresh air and exercise while you’re at it!

Offer to babysit

Give some friends or even neighborhood families some time away from the kids so they can go on a date or get errands done by offering your services as a babysitter.

Start a part-time business

If you have a bit of time to devote to money making, why not consider starting a part-time business from home?  You could try these ideas on for size:

  • Start a blog
  • Dog walking
  • Tutoring
  • Baking/Meal provider
  • Music lessons
  • Errand runner
  • Personal shopper
  • Cleaning
  • Graphic design work
  • Mow neighborhood lawns/shovel snow
  • Life/Business Coaching – are people always asking your advice on a particular subject?  Consider charging a fee for your advice.

Teach English at Home with VIPKID

If you have a Bachelor’s degree from a US or Canadian University as well as experience with children (such as: teaching, mentoring, coaching, tutoring, babysitting, etc.) you could possibly earn up to $22/hour (USD) teaching online with VIPKID. VIPKID needs thousands of work-from-home teacher’s to teach English online to kids in China. This is an amazing work-from-home opportunity – and don’t worry, you do not need to know any foreign language or have formal teaching experience. Find all the details here.

All in all, get creative or meet a need you see around you to earn a bit of extra money you can put towards reaching your financial goals!

What are your ideas for earning extra money?  Do you have any stories to share about how you’re currently earning extra cash?  Please share in the comments!

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How to Make the Most of Christmas when You Can’t Afford Much https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-make-the-most-of-christmas-when-you-cant-afford-much/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-make-the-most-of-christmas-when-you-cant-afford-much/#respond Fri, 30 Nov 2018 18:39:03 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=122120 When you can’t afford much for Christmas it is easy to feel down and let it get in the way of having a great holiday with your family. This year, if you find that you just don’t have the money in your budget to do everything you wish you could, take time to appreciate what you do have and make the most of Christmas anyway.

How to make the most of Christmas when you can't afford much

Focus on the Meaning

The most important part of coping with a tight budget during the holidays is to really focus on the meaning of the holiday.  Christmas is a time of celebration for all and a time to turn our focus from our busy lifestyles to our friends and family that mean so much to us. Focus more on how you are spending your time than how you are spending your money and find the joy in the little things.

Find Fun Freebies

Find fun free things to do that will build lasting memories. Many libraries will offer great free Christmas story times, activities, and parties. The local schools will all have performances going on that you can visit and support loved ones. Going and viewing Christmas light displays, singing carols, and building snowmen are all great ways to spend time together making Christmas memories without spending money.

Get Crafty

Save money and make your holiday decorations at home with salt dough ornaments, paper snowflakes, and fresh cut evergreen branches. This is a charming way to decorate for the holidays while building great family memories that will last a lifetime.

You could even try your hand at making homemade gifts! I’ve got a whole series of fantastic Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas, here.

Create Traditions

Create family-centered traditions like watching Christmas Movies while sipping homemade cocoa or reading Christmas books before slipping off to bed on a cold winter night. Your traditions can be anything you already have the supplies to make happen without spending any money.

Wrap Everything!

For children when unwrapping gifts is the most exciting part of the holiday try wrapping everything even the smallest stocking stuffer. This will draw out the fun part for children even when you don’t have a lot under the tree.

Focus on Others

Turn your focus on helping others. So often it is hard to see past our own struggles and misfortunes. By taking time to help others in some way you are helping your family learn to look at your holidays with thankfulness for all the things you do have while helping make Christmas a little brighter for others at the same time. Even if volunteering with the needy at your local soup kitchen or food pantry is not an option you can perform random acts of kindness for others.

I’d love to know your ideas for frugal holiday memory making. Let us know in the comments below!

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10 Frugal Tasks to Do Before the End of the Year https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-frugal-tasks-to-do-before-the-end-of-the-year/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-frugal-tasks-to-do-before-the-end-of-the-year/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 18:00:51 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=121788 The end of the year is rapidly approaching. A new year is the perfect time to fix any financial mistakes you’ve made, and any bad spending habits you may have to set your family and your budget on solid ground for the upcoming new year. If you’re like most people, you may not know how to begin fixing those issues. These 10 frugal tasks you need to do before the end of the year are a great place to start.

10 Frugal Tasks to Do Before the End of the Year

10 frugal tasks to do before the end of the year so you will be well on your way to a more financially secure future! What's the first thing you are going to work on? #frugality #frugalliving #simplyfrugal

Do a financial audit

If you’ve never done a yearly financial audit, now is the time. To do one, download all of your bank statements for the year. Go through each one and make a list of the unnecessary expenses you had. Total them up. This will allow you to see just how much money you wasted this year hopefully making it so you can fix it next year if need be.

Reconciling Your Checking Account

These days most people don’t write checks, which means they also don’t reconcile their checking accounts. This is a bad idea because you can easily miss fraudulent transactions, wasted money and more. If you haven’t done it recently, make certain you reconcile your checking account before the end of the year.

Find new ways to reuse things to save money

Reusing something instead of throwing it out is a great way to save money. Before the year ends, find ten or so new things you can reuse to save. Doing so will set you up to start the new year saving instead of spending. This post, 25 new uses for old things, is a great place to start for ideas!

Try Menu Planning

If you’re not already, give menu planning a try before the end of the year. Not only can it save you time, but it will also help you save money on your grocery bill. It doesn’t matter whether you plan for a month or a week. Anything will help if you’re not already doing it. In our family, I have incorporated a 20 meal rotation for dinners. Kids are picky, so this ensures most of the meals will be enjoyed by everyone because I have picked favourites for the rotation.

Try Freezer Cooking

Along with menu planning, give freezer cooking a try before the end of the year. It saves time, money and stress for you! The easiest way I have found to start freezer cooking, is to made a big batch of dinner one night and freeze the leftovers. Spaghetti sauce and taco meat are some of my favourite leftovers to freeze.

Once a Month Grocery Shopping

Part of the reason you may be having trouble saving on groceries is because you’re in the store more often than you need to be. That’s why it is important to give once a month shopping a try before the end of the year. When you’re in the store less often, you spend far less money. Once you try it, you’ll very likely never go back.

Budgeting

Another major issue most people have with their finances is not making a budget. If you’re not currently making one each month, give it a try before the end of the year. Make sure you stick to it for at least one month. I think you’ll be quite surprised by the changes you see. The Budget Binder Kit that I have made is a great way to get started with budgeting.

Cut Unnecessary Subscriptions

As you’re reconciling your checking account, be sure to keep an eye out for any unnecessary bills you’re paying each month. This usually happens in the form of a subscription. If you haven’t used it in the past 30 days, you do not need to be paying for it.

Work on Cutting Utility Bills

Aside from groceries, utility bills are one of the highest expenses a family can have. Before the end of the year, take the time to work on lowering them. Put your lights on timers. Fix any leaky faucets. Cut your shower time by 90 seconds. You would be surprised at how much savings those little changes can really add up to.

Get Your Car Tuned Up

Car maintenance is very important to keep your car from becoming a money pit. Before the end of the year, be sure it gets a tune up. This includes an oil change if needed, tires rotated, battery checked and other routine tasks. By keeping it maintained, you’ll set yourself up for a new year with a great running car.

So there you go. 10 frugal tasks to do before the end of the year so you will be well on your way to a more financially secure future! What’s the first thing you are going to work on?

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How to Feed Your Family on $50 This Week https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-feed-your-family-on-50-this-week/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-feed-your-family-on-50-this-week/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 21:03:19 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=121413 One thing that will bring a family together are home cooked meals at the kitchen table. There is nothing better than gathering around yummy food, while conversing about life, with your family members. Unfortunately, feeding your family does not come cheap. Here are some great tips to help you feed your family on $50 this week, whether you are tight on cash, or just simply looking to be a little more frugal.

How to Feed Your Family on $50 This Week

Yes, it can be done, and you don’t have to coupon! Check out these practical tips on how to feed your family on $50 a week!

Take Inventory

Take inventory of what is already in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. I make a list using the inventory sheet from the Grocery Conqueror Kit, so that I have it as I sit down to make my shopping list and menu plan. No need to buy tomato sauce if you already have some in the pantry!

Use Store Rewards

I like to collect PC Optimum points because the points turn into cash that I can put towards my grocery bill. I just recently redeemed $30 so that was a nice chunk of change of of that grocery bill! There are many other store reward programs out there that may be worth trying out if it means savings for you!

Use Grocery Rebate Sites

I like Checkout 51 and Caddle because I can just upload my receipt and go. I have 7 days from the time I shop to upload, and I can combine rebates from all 4 sites from 1 receipt to maximize savings!

Shop the Right Places

Being able to feed your family for less, means that you need to be willing to shop at different stores. If you are used to shopping at higher end grocery stores that generally charge more than say, Walmart or No Frills, consider stepping outside of your box, and head into a less costly store. Set aside your reasons and any ill feelings that you may have about those stores. You certainly will not regret it after leaving the store with a little extra change in your pocket!

Meal Plan Around Flyer Sales

Meal planning is a great way to make sure you know exactly what your family will be eating every day. Knowing which meals you will be enjoying also means that you know all of the ingredients needed, and this will allow you to better stick to your budget of $50. Just make sure that as you plan your meals, that you are scoping out the flyer sales and planning your meals around what is on sale and what you already have at home.

Use Cheap Fillers

When you have a tight food budget to stick to, you will find that rice and beans will become some of your favorite ingredients. Rice and beans generally do not have much flavor, so they can be added to almost any meal, even if it is just as a side that you season with salt and pepper. However, the other great thing about rice and beans is that they are cheap fillers in things like tacos, soup and chili! This means that you will feel fuller after eating them. Dry beans will be your best value, so don’t be afraid to use them!

Make a list of cheap meals

I’m in the thought camp that most meals can be frugal meals if you purchase the ingredients on sale. for example, meat. Don’t buy chicken breasts if the chicken thighs are on sale. Also, take a look at the 20 meal rotation I have been doing as our meal plan lately. I’d consider most meals on the list cheap and frugal!

Stick to the same things for Breakfast and Lunch

In our house, I have a rotation going of oatmeal, pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs and cereal all served with fruit for breakfasts. Sounds time consuming, but it’s really not because once in a while we have breakfast for dinner (pancakes/French toast) and I freeze the leftovers. We can then pop them into the toaster for a super quick, filling breakfast! Same sort of idea for lunches. Sandwiches, grilled cheese, soup, leftovers… Dinner is where most of the variety comes from!

Eat Those Leftovers!

Who wants leftovers? Most people generally are not fond of reheated meals the following day. However, eating leftovers is a great way to help you stick to your weekly food budget. If your family cannot handle the same meal twice in one week consider turning your leftovers into a new meal by turning it into a soup or stew, or adding new flavors or vegetables to it. Taco Tuesday can become taco salad (or taco soup) Wednesday. I especially love to freeze leftovers like spaghetti sauce. Makes for a super easy meal on a rushed night.

Feeding your family on $50 this week really comes down to being creative as much as it does frugal. People do what they have to do to survive and you, my friend, can totally make this work for your family. What tips do you have to add?


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20 Family Dinner Recipes that Cut our Grocery Bill https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/20-family-dinner-recipes-that-cut-our-grocery-bill/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/20-family-dinner-recipes-that-cut-our-grocery-bill/#comments Fri, 17 Aug 2018 18:00:40 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=119843 Planning a menu each week can be such an annoyance. Some weeks, it would take me hours to come up with enough meals for the week because I’d always try to add variety with new meals. I would scour cookbooks and Pinterest for new recipes and get distracted trying to decide if something sounded good or not. Or whether or not the rest of the family would eat it… So, one thing that has helped us to cut our grocery budget was to create a short, go-to recipe list! I mean, we eat the same basic things for breakfast each day, why not apply the principle to dinner too?

If you want to finally stop wasting money on groceries, I'd encourage you to grab some inspiration from our go-to recipe list. #mealplanning #menuplanning #dinnerideas #easydinner

Narrowing our meal ideas to only 20 options has made meal planning a breeze and has saved us so much money. It also reduces food waste, because I know I am making food that we all enjoy. These meals are a mix of quick & easy meals, recipes that are great for leftovers, and some a wee bit more complicated because they’re just so tasty.

So, if you want to finally stop wasting money on groceries, I’d encourage you to grab some inspiration from our go-to recipe list. Here’s what we’re eating, aside from leftover nights and super simple meals (like tomato soup & grilled cheese):

  1. Tacos – I find that one package of ground beef is enough for two meals for our family. I’ll often make it stretch further with a can of baked beans.
  2. French Toast – We often like breakfast meals for dinner. I especially love to make a big batch of French toast because I can freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts.
  3. Instant Pot Beef Stew – This is so good! Since the recipe doesn’t call for potatoes, I like to serve it over mashed potatoes.
  4. Spaghetti – Lately I’ve been browning ground beef, adding it to the slow cooker with a jar of pasta sauce, a bit of water and a sprinkle of beef bouillon powder.
  5. Hamburger Soup – This freezes well and is enjoyed every time I make it.
  6. Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce Pork Chops – Place pork chops over sliced onions in a slow cooker, then pour your favourite BBQ sauce over top. Cook on low for about 4 – 6 hours. Serve with rice or potatoes and steamed veggies.
  7. Sausage and Potato Bake – Cut up potato, carrots, sweet potato, peppers, and farmer’s sausage and place in a big 9×13 baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and a dose of oregano, salt & pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.
  8. Roasted chicken – It no secret that a roasted whole chicken can stretch for many meals. I’ll often buy rotisserie chicken for a super fast dinner with veggies and potatoes.
  9. Balsamic beef roast – This is another meal that stretches far or is great for feeding a crowd.
  10. Quiche– a satisfying meal
  11. Instant Pot Honey Sesame chicken – Delicious served with rice and veggies!
  12. Creamy chicken soup – This is another delicious soup that freezes well!
  13. Chicken pesto stuffed shells – My husband’s favourite meal that actually isn’t that hard to make! Great freezer meal too.
  14. Ramen Vegetable stirfry – I buy the healthy ramen noodles from Costco. A great way to use up vegetables that are needing to be used up.
  15. Meatballs– These are so versatile and the recipe make a ton so you’ll have plenty for the freezer.
  16. Chicken in basil sauce – One of our “fancy” dinners that we enjoy.
  17. Fettuccine Alfredo – An indulgence we don’t mind occasionally since we need to fatten up the kids. 😉
  18. White Chicken Chili – A good twist on classic chili that again, freezes well.
  19. Chicken & Asparagus Pasta Bake – So easy to put together. Also works well with green beans.
  20. Slow Cooker Barbacoa – Leftovers are so good over salad, in tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more!

There you have it! The 20 family dinner recipes that have managed to cut our grocery bill!

Does your family have a go-to recipe list? What are your favourite meals?


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The Amazing Benefits of Budgeting https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/budgeting-basics-the-benefits-of-budgeting/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/budgeting-basics-the-benefits-of-budgeting/#comments Wed, 18 Jul 2018 21:00:07 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=43217 Today, I’m going to start out with a few points about the benefits of budgeting.  For those of you that already have a budget set up, this may be confirmation that it is a good thing, but for those of you that don’t have a budget, it may present some points that will give you the push to get started.

The Amazing Benefits of Budgeting

If this article doesn't get you excited about budgeting, then I don't know what will! The Amazing benefits of budgeting all wrapped up in one spot. #budget #budgeting #personalfinance #simplyfrugal

A Budget Will Help Identify Where your Money is Going

First and foremost, a budget will allow you to identify where exactly your money is going.  You’ll see just how much is going towards bills, clothing, entertainment and everything else you spend your money on.  This is important to know if you want to gain any sense of control over your finances.

A Budget Will Help you to Control Your Money

Once you have identified where your money is going and you make a budget, you may be some hard choices to make at first. Maybe you realize you need to move to a more affordable house. Or maybe you discover that drinking a Starbucks latte everyday is keeping you from taking your dream vacation.  It can be hard to accept that you can’t have it all. But once you get past that point and realize that by cutting a few expenses here, can allow you to spend more over there, budgeting doesn’t seem so bad. It allows you to prioritize what is important to you, and then live by those priorities.

A Budget Will Help Guide you in Planning Financial Goals

A budget is a plan.  A plan for where you want your money to go.  Say you want to do a bathroom renovation next winter.  Unless you plan to set aside money every month, you won’t be doing that renovation. (Unless of course, you take on debt.)  Without a plan, the money can too easily be spent on $100 trips to the mall.  Having a budget helps you to plan and stick to your financial goals you hope to achieve.

A Budget Will Help you Prepare for Emergency Expenses

Having a budget will allow you to allocate money to an emergency fund for those unexpected situations that are bound to arise in your lifetime.  A broken furnace, vehicle repairs, or an unexpected trip to visit an ill relative, to name a few.  When you don’t have a budget, it’s easy to forget about those extra expenses that will most likely arise at some point in the year.

A Budget Will Help Give you Peace of Mind

Having a budget is what ensures you’ll have enough to pay your expenses.  Since you’ve set aside money for your day to day expenses, annual property taxes, income tax, emergencies and what ever else you know is necessary in your life, there’s no need to stress or loose sleep.

A Budget Will Help you Feel Less Guilty about Spending Money

Once you start budgeting and tracking your finances you might find that you feel less guilty about spending money. Knowing that you have set aside $75 a month for clothing, for example, you don’t have to feel badly about spending it all or a portion on a pair of shoes that you fell in love with.  When every dollar has a purpose, you can feel much better about spending in general.

Having a budget is freeing, because you make the plan. It’s customized to your needs and wants. It’s also not set in stone. If you find that you miscalculated when you set the food budget, readjust. That’s the beauty of it. It’s your budget. Your money, working for you!

What are some other benefits of budgeting?  Do you have any stories to share about how budgeting “saved” you?


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Create a Stylish Home on a Budget https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/create-a-stylish-home-on-a-budget/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/create-a-stylish-home-on-a-budget/#respond Tue, 10 Jul 2018 18:59:12 +0000 http://simplyfrugal.wpengine.com/?p=50492 If you have ever watched any home decorating show you have probably seen the amazing homes showcased. It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that your home might not look so professionally done. However, you can have a beautiful home that is stylish and done on a budget! With nearly any budget you can make your home stylish and welcoming. Also keep in mind that simple, timeless decorating is typically what looks the best in any home.

Create a Stylish Home on a Budget

Here are 5 Things you should focus on to create a stylish home on a budget.  #decor #homedecor #decorating #budgethome

Paint

Purchasing paint is fairly inexpensive and can change-up the look of any room. If you are ready for a change and don’t have a lot of money, consider painting. Even just painting an accent wall can turn any home from dull to very hip and stylish! Don’t be afraid to try out different colors. Most paint stores will give you little amounts of paint to take home to try out.

Rugs

One way to bring drama or simple coziness to a room is by adding rugs. However, you don’t have to go out and pay for expensive rugs. In fact places like Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart and Home Sense are all great places to find very large and beautiful rugs on a budget. Try to pick out a rug that adds color as you can find other accents based off of the colors in the rugs. If your rug has some red and purple in it, look for red and purple throw pillows for your couch.

Lights

Lighting can make or break any room. You want to make sure you have the right amount of lighting for tasks and ambiance. Don’t be scared of trying out different lamps. Adding some pretty lamp shades, stand up lamps or even recessed lighting can turn your room into a stylish one.

Wall Art

There are different price ranges when it comes to wall art. You can really dig into the bank account and hit up a gallery or you can go the more budget friendly route. Look for wall art at garage sales, discount stores and even at your local mall. You can also just make your own wall art with family pictures blown up onto canvas.  Or, make a beautiful printable and frame it. Wall art is an area you can really get creative since it isn’t permanent.

Decor

Using decor to bring some style to a room is easy and affordable. In fact just adding in some simple things like throw pillows, inexpensive curtains, candles and plants can really liven up any room. You can find these items at second-hand stores, garage sales or re-purpose what you already own.

How are your creating your stylish home on a budget?

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How to Choose the Right Retirement Savings Account https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-choose-the-right-retirement-savings-account/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-choose-the-right-retirement-savings-account/#respond Fri, 06 Jul 2018 20:11:09 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=119243 This post is a sponsored post by Sun Life Financial written By Brenda Spiering. See my disclosure policy here.

Saving for retirement is likely one of your top financial priorities. But did you know that how you save can be nearly as important as how much you save?  Choosing the right retirement savings account can have a huge impact both on how much money you save and how much tax you pay. So, how do you choose the best type of account?

How to choose the right retirement savings account

Here is how to choose the best type of savings account for retirement in Canada. #retirement #canada #rrsp #tfsa #retirementsavings

 When to choose an RRSP

When it comes to saving for retirement, RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) are pretty hard to beat. Contributions are tax-deductible, investments grow on a tax-free basis within the plan, and RRSP  funds aren’t subject to tax till they’re withdrawn from the plan.

If you expect your current income is going to be greater than your income in retirement, an RRSP is a great option. It will provide you with a tax deduction that can help reduce your current income taxes. Plus, if you’re in a lower tax bracket when you draw the money out, it can help reduce the overall amount of income tax you pay.

When to choose a TFSA

TFSAs (Tax-Free Savings Accounts) are a great retirement savings account option if you’ve maxed out your RRSP. While you won’t get to claim your contributions as a tax deduction, the investment growth is tax-sheltered and there’s no tax payable on withdrawals.

The fact that withdrawals from a TFSA are not subject to income tax also provides an advantage if you expect your income in retirement to be greater than your current income, since TFSA withdrawals do not reduce income-tested benefits like old age security benefits. Also, unlike RRSPs that you can no longer contribute to after Dec. 31 of the year in which you turn age 71 (or, in the case of a spousal RRSP, the year in which your spouse turns age 71), you can continue to contribute to a TFSA as long as you wish.

How much can you contribute?

Both RRSPs and TFSAs have contribution limits. In the case of RRSPs, you can contribute up to 18% of your previous year’s earned income up to the maximum limit set each year by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) ($26,230 for 2018), plus any unused contribution room carried forward from prior years.

Since 2016, the annual maximum contribution limit for TFSAs has been $5,500, however, you can also contribute for any past years in which you didn’t contribute, back to 2009 when TFSAs were first introduced. If you’ve never contributed before, you’re currently eligible to contribute a maximum of $57,500.

A great way to determine how much you need to save for retirement is to use a Retirement Savings Calculator. It can help you set an annual savings goal based on your current age, expected retirement age and desired income in retirement. Plus, it can show you the impact of contributing to different types of retirement savings accounts.

To learn more about smart ways to save for retirement, sign up for the Sun Life Saving for Retirement email series.

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How to Teach Kids to Budget and Save https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-teach-kids-to-budget-and-save/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-teach-kids-to-budget-and-save/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 19:19:05 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=116743 Kids are not immune to money talks and they can understand finances and the value of money at a much younger age than many parents realize. Some experts even think that a child’s views on money is set by the time they are 10 years old, some as young as five or six. How you talk about money in front of them, and how you set the example for budgeting and saving is very important to how your child will form their own opinions about money.

This means if you want to start teaching your kids to budget and save, it’s never too early. There are some steps you can take when they are still very small, and then the money lessons can grow with them as they get older. We’re going to look at a few ways to help kids understand budgeting and saving.

Here are some ways you can teach kids to budget and save

How to Teach Kids to Budget and Save. Here are some great ideas to help kids understand budgeting and saving. #budget #budgeting

Use a Piggy Bank

For younger children, use a money jar or piggy bank. Let them see the money they are saving and have a visual of it as it’s growing. Since many people do nearly all their finances digitally now, it may be difficult for a child growing up in this generation to really understand money that they never see.

Set an Example

You know those little eyes are always watching so show them how you budget and save. If you’re not already doing it, create a plan and get started. If you’re already doing it, but they just don’t see it, let them be involved in the process. Talk to them about the household budget. Explain what you’re doing when you go shopping together for groceries. Make talking about money, budgets and saving with your children an ongoing conversation in your household. This is how they learn.

Show Comparison Costs

For older kids, you can start showing comparison costs. “That video game costs as much as a new pair of sneakers”, for example. Or you can give them a commission, rather than a typical allowance. Pay them based on chores they do around the house and increase it based on the number and complexity of the chores they do. This will also teach the value of a dollar, the importance of working for and saving for what they want.

Teach them about Credit Cards

Explain how credit cards work. In addition to explaining that credit cards aren’t just “free money”, you also need to explain how easy it is to get in debt and why credit cards are dangerous. Explain what responsible use is long before they are old enough to have their own. Also, show by example.

Now that you have these ideas on how to teach kids to budget and save, you’re ready to start applying them. If some or all of them don’t work for your family or your kids, that’s okay. Just use the ones that do work, or make modifications to these suggestions so that they do work for you! If you’re looking for even more tips and advice, check out Money Smart Kids by Gail Vaz-Oxlade or Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey. Both books are highly rated!

What are some ideas that you have successfully used with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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How to Create and Keep a Spending Journal https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-create-and-keep-a-spending-journal/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/how-to-create-and-keep-a-spending-journal/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 19:54:59 +0000 https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=113319 We journal our thoughts and feelings, we journal what we eat, but how many of us journal what we spend? A spending journal is a great way to track where our money is going and get a clear financial picture of our circumstances. It can help us spend smarter, spend less, and make more informed buying decisions. And the best part is, keeping a spending journal only takes minutes a day! Take a look at these helpful tips on How to Create and Keep a Spending Journal, so you can take better control of your financial situation starting today.

How to Create and Keep a Spending Journal

How to create and keep a spending journal to control your finances.

1. Find a journal.

You can’t create a spending journal without a journal, right? Any simple notebook or journal will do! Head to your local Dollar store if you wish and grab a durable notebook. These notebooks from Amazon will also do the trick. Label it as you wish, and you now officially have a spending journal!

2. Decide on the layout.

There are several ways to layout the journal. You can create a page for each day, or create sections using notebook dividers. Use a layout that works for you. If you want to avoid flipping around, it may just be easier to use a new page each day.

3. Track these expenses.

You have your journal, you have your layout, now it is time to decide WHAT should be going in your journal. You want to be sure you include these items each and every day in your journal:

– Outgoing money/expenses
– Incoming money/income
– Essential spending should be written in GREEN
– Non essentials should be written in RED

Basically if you spend a single dime, it gets recorded in the journal. If you earn a single dime, it gets recorded in the journal. It may be ideal to make two columns on each page, one for outgoing and one for incoming. Then, use colored pens (red and green) to decipher spending and record the information in each.

4. Analyze your journal entries each week.

Once you have accumulated a week’s worth of entries, it is time to analyze them. Do your red entries outweigh the green? That could be an issue. You want to see where you might be wasting money. Fast food, coffee shop stops, entertainment, and dry cleaning may be some of the items popping up in red. The gas bill, groceries, and electric bill may be some of the items showing up in green. The idea is to cut the red column down so you can pay off more of the essential expenses.

5. After a month, add a purple column.

After you have the chance to analyze your spending for the month, add one more column. The purple column is where you will put money you SAVED. If you add any money to savings or use a coupon to save on an item, write the savings in the purple column. It will be fun to see that amount grow!

6. Keep the journal handy.

It is best to keep your journal in a purse or handbag where you can write your expenses down as they happen. If you put it off until the end of the day you might forget and info may not get recorded. Keep the journal handy and you are more likely to use it and keep information up to date.

As you can see, a journal like this can really help you gain financial freedom. Consider creating a Spending Journal to see if it can help you!

Have you heard of a spending journal before? Will you give it a try?

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10 Ways to Combine Frugal and Fun https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-ways-to-combine-frugal-and-fun/ https://www.simplyfrugal.ca/10-ways-to-combine-frugal-and-fun/#respond Fri, 04 May 2018 19:12:01 +0000 http://www.simplyfrugal.ca/?p=114364 Being frugal doesn’t mean that you have to live your life in a no fun zone. Maybe you assume that saving money means that you aren’t spending any money which in turn, means that you aren’t doing anything fun. Contrary to that belief, being frugal is fun!

Each and every day, we are each faced with choices on how we choose to make money, and then, in turn, spend that money.  Some people like to spend money on food, while others prefer to spend money on “things” or on making memories.  There’s no right or wrong way to spend your own money. It’s your choice. But what about those people who like to have it both ways?  They like to save money, but also have fun doing so. Is it possible to be able to do both? To actually be frugal and fun?  Absolutely. You can have your cake and eat it too. Need some ideas and inspiration? Here are some suggestions on 10 Ways You can Combine Frugal with Fun.

Being frugal doesn't mean that you have to live your life in a no fun zone. Contrary to that belief, being frugal is fun! Here are 10 ideas to combine frugal and fun.

Enjoy and embrace nature.

The great outdoors can be 100% free, and 100% fun.  Think of the options waiting for you right out your back door.  You can go biking, hiking, rollerskating… all in nature and all for free. Hours upon hours of fun await you with an endless supply of outdoor activities. All without making a dent at all in your wallet.

Create a random dish with items in your pantry or fridge. 

We all need to shake up our taste buds every now and then, right?  Instead of running to the store and buying something new, or spending your hard-earned dough on delivery, create a taste bud masterpiece with something fun that you can find in your kitchen. You save money by using what you have and have fun by exploring a fun, one of a kind dish.

Host a small get together.

Have an event or win in life that you want to celebrate? Host a party in the comfort of your own home! No need to rent out a venue for a high cost when you can host at home for free. Better yet? Have it be a pot luck where everyone brings a dish.  Less money to spend on food and everyone has fun trying each other’s dishes and exchanging recipes.

Educate yourself.

Get in tune with all the free things going on in your town. You may be surprised by how many pubs, restaurants or coffee shops in your area offer free bands to listen to on the weekend. Or take a look and see if there are free movies or music in the parks. The events are free for a reason, to be accessible for all to attend!

Binge watch a favorite movie series or shows.

Forget about spending a high ticket price at the movie theater…try to binge watch a few of your old favorites at home. Pop your own popcorn, just the way you like it and snuggle up in your pajamas for a night of fun and relaxation.

Makeover yourself and your friends. 

Who doesn’t like to be pampered? Going to the spa and the salon can be pricey, but having a fun makeover day at home can be awesome. Have all your friends bring over their makeup and have fun pampering and trying out new looks!

Give geocaching a try. 

If you love scavenger hunts, this may be something new and fun to try. Research if it’s popular in your area, and give it a go.  You can uncover all kinds of hidden treasures when searching for those disguised items placed by others in the great outdoors.  

Host a Freezer Meal Party.

These are the best. Invite a group of your cooking buddies over, have them all bring ingredients for their favorite quick meals, and have fun dividing up, sharing and freezing for later.  What a quick and inexpensive way to stock up dinner for later and enjoy the company of some of your favorite people!

Be on the hunt for free books.

Who doesn’t love a good book? But they can be expensive to buy. Instead, hunt around your town to see if there are any Little Free Book Libraries to get books from. (If you’ve never heard of them, check ’em out!)  Also, don’t forget about the awesomeness of the local library.

Relax and go fishing.

Fishing is full of fun from the casting out of the line, to the excitement of reeling in that fish.  It can be a totally fun way to relax, or even catch your own dinner!

Finding ways to save money can be fun and rewarding!  By allowing yourself to be open to trying new things and using some creativity, the options are out there to enjoy. Try spending your time, not your money, by trying new things and making new memories. You may be amazed by all the fun freebies available to you when you are open and accepting to try them!

What are your ideas for combining frugal and fun? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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