Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Get Inked!

No, I'm not encouraging tattoos! I'm talking printer ink, people! These days there are so many options of places to get your printer cartridges refilled, you can save huge money here. Printer ink can be quite costly, and when you work out of your home, it adds up. To keep on top of things, last year I purchased a second set of cartridges to supplement the ones that came with the printer. I purchased them from the same guy I take to get them refilled. By having a backup set, I'm never 'hooped' when one runs out. I try to make sure the second set is always refilled so that I'm good to go. But how does this save you money?! Well actually, cartridges are not just a one time use item! You can get them refilled several times at a cheap rate before they "go bad" and will no longer take on the new ink and function properly. However, I would say I get at least 5-10 refills per cartridge, and a refill on those guys costs me about $11. To replace the cartridge and just toss it after one use, they're around $40 each in stores! Also, by reusing the cartridges a handful of times, you're reducing waste and saving our planet (every little bit counts). Even better still, make nice with the refill guys and they have lots of cartridges they'll sell to you for next to nothing once yours bites the dust. Double score!

So take a second to think about how much you should be saving by refilling your cartridges. That number might surprise you :). Check out some local refill stations, and keep that hard earned money in your wallet.

Happy Saving!
- C

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

November Grocery Follow up

I tried to buy everything all at once for a month's worth of meals for November. With the exception of some fresh fruit and veggies, and milk, I thought we'd done so good with one BIG trip. Also, I've got a girlfriend who can feed her family of 4 on $250 a month, including her diapers and wipes and needs of that sort. I've decided she is my hero!!! That is awesome! We thought we'd done so well, and we purchased our meat in a large quantity and froze it. Well, because we'd bought the big packs of meat, which are a way better deal than the small packs, our grocery funds were pretty slim after the big trip. Mind you, we had way more meat in the freezer than we were going to need for this Monty's planned meals. That being said, when we buy meats to replenish the freezer, we definitely need to budget a little more that month for groceries. As with any goal setting, you always have to re-evaluate to determine if your goals are in reach or not. So that is my diagnosis! Why? Because we ended up pulling out of other budgets to help buy more fresh food nearing the end of the month. On a good note, though, I think next month we won't spend as much, as we have so much meat still in the freezer! Also, meal planning for the whole month was awesome! We didn't even get though the 13 planned meals, as we had lots of leftovers and some impromptu meals. The one suggestion would be to figure out which ones you'll make in the first two weeks, and buy any produce for them then. And a second round of produce shopping at the start of week three for the next round of meals. Well, that would make more sense anyways! As long as you stick to your list!

Happy Saving!
- C

Friday, 23 November 2012

Gas Buddy

There really is an app for everything. So, why wouldn't there be apps for helping you save money?! A quick and easy app to use to help you save a couple bucks is the Gas Buddy app. Free on the App Store, this app will show you where the cheapest gas is in your area, either by using the GPS or typing in your location. It is maintained by users inputting the gas prices that they find around the city, so that you can get the info right at your fingertips. Also, if you sign up to become a member also, the more prices you input on a regular basis gets you entries into the draw for gas gift cards! So it could benefit even more by getting this app and then signing up!

So if where you get your gas doesn't matter to you, check it out! Sometimes it's a matter of going another block or two to save $0.03 per litre (which can totally add up over time!).

Happy Saving!
- C

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Get Paid for Your Opinion

It's not always beneficial to share your strong opinions with people you don't know. In this case, it is, and it will make you some extra money, too! Head to the web and check out some survey or opinion sites and find out how you can get paid for sharing your opinion. I usually fill out online surveys, given they have come from a reliable and valid source, but I recently discovered a Canadian site that pays you to share your opinions. It's not much, usually between $0.50-$2.00 per survey, but they add up! And they don't pay out your earning until you've reached $50, and then they send you a somewhat hefty cheque. For sharing your thoughts on things from products to bank services. It's that simple :)

Give it a try! Are there other ones perhaps you've heard of that you'd like to pass on?!

Happy Saving!
- C

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Do Your Homework

When heading out to make a big purchase, are you the type to go buy right away or do you do some research? It is no surprise that impulse buys will cost you more than well-thought out investments, but you will also more likely than not end up spending more money than you need to if you're not doing your consumer homework! Go online, shop around, and one I've learned lately, ask about promotions!!! You never know what kind of deals may be currently available or coming up in the next few days/weeks. If you don't need the item that day, perhaps you can save a couple bones by waiting it out until a big sale.

The second benefit to wait it out or do some more research is that you may decide that you really, in fact, do not need that item! Novelty a huge influencing factor to impulse buys, and if you wait it out you could be saving yourself that awful buyers remorse.

So! How many of you research your big purchases, and how many head out and think "today I'll buy a flat screen tv!"? Perhaps this may now make you stop and at least think it over before you throw away your hard-earned dollars.

Happy Saving!
- C

Monday, 12 November 2012

Free Kindle Reads

Usually I am the one to share cool websites and Internet finds with my mom. However, she's upped her game and started to beat me to it! First one: Jesse the Jack Russell Terrier. It's a YouTube video series that has nothing to do with saving money, but it's pretty cute, funny, and impressive! Check him out.

The money saver that my mom recommended to me recently was a website to correspond with the Kindle. Now, I don't have a Kindle, but I do have an iPad and an Amazon account. Solution: download the Kindle app to my iPad. Step to, check out This website has daily deals including discounts and free ebooks. There are different featured books each day, and they are usually only available that same day. They download straight to my library on my iPad and are there for me when I'm ready. My biggest issue now is getting through them all!

Any other websites that you guys have heard of to get free ebook downloads?

Happy Saving!
- C

Saturday, 10 November 2012

More Post Halloween Savings!

I started two new jobs this week; yes, two! Trying to amp up the savings account, and this seemed like a good way to do it. It allows the flexibility to keep up my private consulting and still make some extra dough. ANYWAYS! So I got a job a Superstore Optical as a part time clerk. It's a lot of fun so far and a very cool challenge. Today during my shift, my trainer and I were watching people come through the grocery tills. Everybody had huge piles and carts full of Halloween decor, costumes, and accessories. We thought that they must be really discounted! Following about 30 minutes of watching these huge hauls check out, we had to go scope it out. What did we find, you ask?! Everything- and I mean everything to do with Halloween decorations was on for $0.05!!!! FIVE CENTS! We couldn't stop laughing, and then even picked out a few things we would purchase once we were off shift.

Awesome way to save on decoration; buy post season! Why not stock up on stuff after the fact, and then you have all new things the next year! Genius! Then you get new stuff and next year avoid spending the high cost of the novelty items when the season or holiday is approaching. Yippie!

Happy Saving!
- C

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

DIY - Haircuts!

As I have recently mentioned, I love my hairdresser! She is unreal and was the greatest suggestion of a hairdresser ever :). Matt also goes to her, as does my sister-in-law, our best friends (him and her - she was the initial referral), and a few more of friends that we've suggested along the way. However, despite our love for our kick ass hair dresser, Matt has decided that we can just cut his hair ourselves! Now this is a feat I will never attempt (obviously different hair situations!) but it is a smart move to save a few bucks. As his hair grows extremely fast, he usually gets a haircut every 6 weeks. So it adds up quickly!

Tonight was our first night we cut his hair. Success! We used the clippers and a #5 on the top and a #3 and a #2 on the sides and back. Now, it's not as fabulous as our hairdresser does, but it was free! We'll take it!

Would you be willing to sacrifice your hairdresser, if you don't have long, luscious locks?! Let us know :)

Happy Savings!
- C

Monday, 5 November 2012

Free Pumpkin - FOLLOW UP

A few days ago I discovered free pumpkins in grocery stores following the Halloween rush.  Yep, 100% free, you just can go in and take what you like.  In an new attempt to be thrifty, I blogged about how I was going to save money and use these pumpkins to make my own pure pumpkin puree.  You know, the stuff you buy in the can usually around Thanksgiving and Christmas?  That was my plan.

So off to Google I go, searching How to Clean a Pumpkin.  A few different techniques were found, mostly involving boiling or roasting, or some combination of the two.  So I picked one that assured me it was simple and easy and brought the best flavor out without causing the pumpkin flesh to become soggy.  I found it here.

I followed the instructions as followed, with only some minor spillage of the pan water into the oven.  Seemed to work okay, except to me it seemed like a lot of water and moisture in the pumpkin.  Once I scraped all the flesh out, I actually put it in a fine sieve to drain it off.  It still seems quite moist, but I guess we will see!  I also put it in to the blender to mix it up a little, so that it didn't have so many large and stringy part to it.  This caused it to resemble baby food, but seemed to do the trick.  I got about 8 or 9 cups of pumpkin flesh out of the one medium-sized pumpkin.  Not too shabby, seeing as it was free, and normally you can get the can of pumpkin (about 3-4 cups), for $2-$3 in stores.

HOWEVER!  This process involved a lot of time, made a lot of mess, and really has me questioning whether or not it was really worth it.  Sure, I used a free pumpkin and saved a couple dollars by using a DIY technique, but it was a hefty process!  Scraping the flesh out of the skin is also really not as easy as it looks in the pictures, and was made into a bit of a soup-y mess with all the excess moisture.  I really should have taken pictures of the sad looking skin, full of holes and nicks, once I was done with it, but it was making such a mess that I just had to get it into the trash as soon as I could.

So come November 1, 2013, will I be creating my own pure pumpkin using the rejected Jack'o'lantern pumpkins?  I can't say I will.  For all the effort, and really the amount that we actually eat pumpkin things, I will most likely pass up on the opportunity to take on this challenge again.  Yes, it is nice to have pumpkin flavored things in the fall, including Gina's Pumpkin Butter that I did make another batch of today, but I really could go without and not miss it too bad (p.s. you must make this pumpkin butter!  Dairy and gluten free, and tastes just heavenly in her overnight oats in a jar).  I'll just savour the pumpkin tastes a little more when I do buy the canned stuff once or twice a year. 

Any major flops or money saving fails that you have tried out that are worthy enough to be featured?!  Did you try something out that could be the greatest hits of Pinterest Fail?!  Please do share, so we can all feel a little better that we've all tried and failed (hilariously) at trying to be thrifty to some extent!

Happy Saving!
- C

Food Substitutions

Sometimes that delicious recipe that you find has some weird or peculiar ingredients in it that you don't have on hand. Ground cardamom, star anise, xanthum gum, are just a few that I've stumbled upon in my adventures. Even if you do know where to find these ingredients, sometimes it's not worth the $11.99 for the 1/4 tsp you need. Instead of blowing your budget out of the water, check the interweb for some possible substitutions! There are so many simple and possibly cheap (if you have the suggested substitution on hand) substitutions for lots of strange ingredients. Even for the not so strange ingredients that you may just have run out of. I also use my Betty Crocker cookbook for substitutions; some of the "well-rounded" cook books have them listed either on the front or back cover. There'a a panicked feeling that overtakes you when you realize you're missing a key component to your great-grandma's favorited recipe, but scope out some substitutions before you throw in the towel!

I feel that the most common substitution that can usually be made is margarine in place of butter, or vice versa. I use them pretty interchangeably for most recipes, and whatever I have on hand will do. With the exception of my banana bread! I must use margarine, even though the recipe calls for butter! It just tastes better!

A nice change in baking, and the addition of a little nutrients, is the use of applesauce in place of either oil or butter. It can usually be substituted up to 3/4 of a cup (1:1 ratio). Try to use the unsweetened variety, otherwise adjust the required sugar to be added.

Another delicious and healthy substitute is Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Now it may not always be the greatest substitute (Greek yogurt tends to be more expensive than a no-name brand sour cream), but perhaps you've got some in the fridge. They have similar consistencies, as well as taste, and they can usually be swapped out for each other when baking.

One last substitute that you can get away with and have no one notice? I had a recipe call for curry powder, which I was sure we had lots of, only to open the pantry and find the lovely little jar empty! Calm down, don't panic, and head to the World Wide Web! As I Googled a substitution, I learnt that curry powder is just a concoction for various spices, all of which I had! Some combination of cardamom, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground turmeric, chili powder, pepper, and fennel seed will give you a decent spice blend. Search around to find a mixture that you can create and voila! No need to toss the tikka!

What are some go to substitutes that you have or do use in baking, either to save your treats or save your toonies?
Share any suggestions you may have in a comment below.

Happy Saving!
- C

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Free Pumpkins!!

Okay major score! So this morning on the Facebook Swap and Buy group that I am a part of, people were discussing free pumpkins! Yes, the F word; free!

How have I missed this?! All the grocery stores have giant orders of pumpkins for the Halloween season. Well what do they do with them after Halloween is over? GIVE THEM AWAY!! Yes, this is awesome. For those of you who love pumpkin flavored things, hello! Jackpot! So I went out and grabbed two free giant pumpkins, and this afternoon will be making my own pure pumpkin purée! Yep, usable in pumpkin butter (aka heroin!), lattes, baking, soups, you name it!

So if you have an hour or so to roast off and 'clean' a pumpkin, you too can get your own fresh pumpkin, instead of the canned stuff. I plan on freezing mine in 1/2 portions, and with 2 giant pumpkins, I think that will be a lot.

Happy Saving!
- C

Friday, 2 November 2012

Writing it Down

Busy week! Sorry that I did not post this sooner, I feel like if my head wasn't screwed on I would have misplaced it this week!

So as we wrapped up our first month of 'jars' and our budgeting, we had 1/8 of our total remaining! Pretty good, I think. However, we maybe did go a bit high on some things, as we didn't know what to budget, but this month we've got a better idea.

The biggest thing we've noticed that had helped us be successful is writing it all down and keeping track! I think back to how we used to be, and although we really didn't spend frivolously, we still spent stupid money on pointless things! And we had no idea what we were spending and where. With keeping all our recipes, and seeing exactly how much money we have left in each jar, you really get it! Just as we have to write down our personal goals in order to keep ourselves accountable and on track, we must do the same thing with our financial goals. No excuses!

In addition, being comfortable with lower than normal bank account numbers, as we withdrawal all our monthly spending once the fixed costs are accounted for, is something that is still taking time to get used to. But when you think of it as that is the lowest it will be, and that it will only o up from there, makes it a little bit of an easier pill to swallow.

I'm curious to know, how many of you actually know what it is you're spending your money on? Are you writing it down, inserting it in your spreadsheet, and keeping track o here your money is going?!! If so, how do you keep yourself and your spending a organized? If not, do you feel you have a good grasp on those dollars you're spending? What would you like to change or improve in order to be more on top of your monies?

Happy Saving!
- C