Posts tagged ‘saving’

How to have a Successful No Spend Month

Please come in.  Have a seat.  I want to show you some of the plans I made for a no spend month. What?  No I don’t think I’m being too dramatic.  Trust me I have lots of examples of that.  The only way I can alter my behaviour is to be intentional.  Here is what I needed to do.  First I had to recognize my patterns, where I spend and what to do when I feel the pull to my ancestoral stomping grounds. OK yes that one was a little over the top but I know I am going to struggle in two top areas.

First off I am a hunter/ gatherer.  I do not like the mall but I do like to hunt.  I have a favourite thrift store. It is staged every week with new things and i love to explore and find out of print book titles, vintage mirrors or sunglasses.  I drop things off at least once a week and then I swing in just to look.  The paperback books are .50 so what’s the harm? No that was a rhetorical question.

The other weakness is eating out.  I like to have someone cook for me. I like not having to take the time to prep. and cook and just be able to eat.

Neither of these things worked with my plans so I needed a default.  One of the things I did was check out some of the local foraging.  No not portaging.  Foraging for materials to make my baskets, or for alder tree buds to make salve will help with the impulse to search for treasure.  No I do not have access to a canoe or gold panning supplies.  Can we stay on track?

For the eating out I’ve pooled some of my gift cards, or coupons that offer a free anything consumable and will have them as my safety net.

Being invited out to someone’s house is OK as is being taken out but the point is not to continue in my old behaviours.  For me that means not wasting money eating out when I can cook for a fraction of the price.

To have a real no spend month I needed to take stock of my supplies in my freezer, fridge and cupboards.

I needed to plan some meals around the food stuff I already had.  If I don’t have it and I want it I have to learn to make it from scratch.  If I’m missing an item I will need to substitute.  You can barter or swap items with friends or family but try to create some sustainable habits.  For the last few weeks I’ve been writing down our dinner meals to help me come up with quick ideas.  Allrecipes.com comes with a search function that allows you to enter the ingredients you have and ones you do not want.  There is also PInterest for specific food items and accompanying recipes.  With both of those the caution is that you do not know if the recipes will be to your liking.  I am making lists of some of my favourites that match my supplies so I am less tempted to run out and yell my requests into someone else’s window.  No I do not mean a neighbors. No I will not be yelling in your window.  I’m sorry to have alarmed you.

The other thing I will have to do is throw out all flyers before reading them to avoid temptation to get a deal. I will also have to stay off of the auction sites.  I usually go to try and sell but inevitably look at what everyone else is trying to sell.

So here we go.  There is no avoiding the fixed costs of life.  The taxman frowns on that behaviour. It is the variables that are to be frozen with the exception of some perishable items.  These will be listed in advance and the list is surprisingly small.  What’s that?  Yes you are still invited for dinner.  No it will not be foraged.  You are welcome.  Meeting adjourned.

Can’t Afford to Coupon

You have seen this movie.

Slowly the hero enters the darkened passage.  He scans the shadows and suddenly there is a sharp noise.  He whips around to confront the danger.  It turns out to be a cat or an old rocking chair. He breathes a sigh of relief, realizing there was no real menace, and relaxes.  He turns back. Before he can even react it’s too late.  He is taken down by a  claw, a tentacle or an old school mate inviting him to a home sales party. Either way he is hooped.
Welcome to my January. I made it through Black Friday until just after Boxing Day. Even with the best of intentions I got hit with the January desperation deals and I bought things that were nowhere near being on my “without this we will become hobos” list. (This is not meant in any way to be critical of or unfair to members of the hobo community considering that without careful planning I could one day be carrying my possessions on the end of a stick.)  Knowing that I have some financial needs that do not fit in the budget I knew that I needed to take some drastic action to get back on track.

Where do I start?
It means I can’t afford to get great deals. I cannot afford bonus points or couponing, at least for the foreseeable future. IMG_0256 I know. I hear the tense snipping of the scissors and feel the disapproving stares as the coupon clipping continues at a furious rate. Heretic. I know that in the U.S. with double coupon days and stacking you can often go home with free stuff. My dilemma is that I am good with free but cannot afford a deal. I already have enough detergent, hair products, and pasta. A good buy is still using money for things I already have.
I learned a secret at a Mrs. Smith seminar, couponer extraordinaire. She said that most coupons come in three month cycles. If you have enough to cover that time frame you do not need more.  The truth is that I can’t resist the deal so I have to get rid of the flyers before I look at them.  It is just too tempting.
So what do I plan to do now that I have little suction cup marks all over my face from the last tangle with the lure of the great deal?
I am planning a “No Spend Month”. (It is more fun if you capitalize it and put it in flashy little grammar markings. I could have used an exclamation mark but I’m saving that for later.) I have ten days to strategize how to make this a success. I will share my battle plans with you. I’m going to have to get creative if I want to succeed. Let’s go savings! Momma needs a new washing machine.

Better Living through Free Stuff – Welcome Wagon

At the end of last summer i had an unexpected and hasty move.  I ended up in a smaller place in a different part of town.  It had good bones but the decor and damage were more grunge than glam.  Most of my time was spent fixing and replacing rather than settling in. As I was nearing the end of the process I was walking though my complex and was greeted with  a cheery hello from our local Welcome Wagon rep. Constance Zacharias.  She asked if I’d had a visit since I moved in and I said no. I realized I was just now past the damage control phase and was ready to explore me neighbourhood. What I did not know was all of the great things that were in the basket. Besides the info. on bike paths, recycling schedules and the community centre there was a wealth of gifts. We ended up with tickets for the local events centre and my son and I took friends to see a local junior hockey game.  We picked up a free cake at the co-op to entertain these same friends and I even picked up a free pillow for the guest room. There was everything from free key cutting, a free hair cut and style to a 4 litre of milk.  I told my friend who’d also recently moved about the service, and we used our $10 local grill certificate to have a low cost lunch together.  By my calculations this was about $100 in savings.  I have yet to use my coupon for a free ad in the local paper or the several other discounts but you get the idea.

If you have recently moved do not hesitate to call Welcome Wagon and learn more about your community and enjoy some great gifts.  I have to go now and pick up my free flaxseed oil.

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It Pays to Ask

I love most free stuff.  I do not say all as viruses, spam and grey hairs are free but unwelcomed.

A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my birthday and that is when a number of companies offer discounts or freebies if your get on their email lists.  IHOP offers a free stack of pancakes, Boston PIzza offers a dessert, Montanas has an appetizer and my favourite, Red Robin’s offers a burger.

My son’s birthday is exactly 2 weeks after mine.  I signed him up for Red Robin’s birthday club as well.  Here is the dilemma.  The coupons are good for one week before your birthday and one week afterwards. That leaves Josh and I one day shy of being able to go out and both get free burgers.

I decided to phone the restaurant and ask if I could use my coupon even if it was a couple of days past due.  They said yes!  I pressed “print” from my iPad.  Problem. The coupon only half printed out.  I went with the email and coupon in hand and to my relief they accepted it.  Big points for Red Robin’s.  We saved $21 and I made sure I tipped on what would have been the total without the coupons.  Two happy customers and a very happy server.

Next I needed a cake for Josh’s party.  I’d received a Dairy Queen coupon in the mail for $7 off an ice cream cake but it was only good for a location 20 miles away.  Since I have one 7 blocks away that didn’t work for me.  I called the restaurant and the worker was not sure.  She asked me to call the manager.  The next day instead of calling I stopped in.  The manager was happy to help and explained that though each location runs its own promotions they would honour the coupon.  Hooray!  Josh ended up with a cake that was over budget but right priced after the discount.

I saved $28 just for asking.  Now that is a happy birthday.