Do you have a “Plan” or are you like me and “Plan-less” by choice?

A rainbow of smart phones, but do you need a plan? Can you save the money and do without all the bells and whistles?
Smartphone image credit: pctechmag.com

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ll have learned that I am a planner. I live and die by my day planner (or agenda, as my kids call it). If it needs to happen, will happen, may happen, could happen, didn’t happen or happened, it’s in my giant 9″x12″ spiral-bound, monthly-tabbed planner. I record our LIVES in my annual day timers and I take a considerable amount of time finding just the right one (because let’s face it, planner needs change over time, amiright?) and have been known to purchase two within a week of one another when the first one just doesn’t quite “feel” right. This is me. I’ve come to accept that.

But in one area of my life, I live “plan-less” and it’s by choice. I’m talking of course, about my mobile phone. I’ve had one fairly constantly since they were little bricks that looked like this:

Circa 1999 (photo credit: Timetoast.com)

My first provider was Telus. They had a low-cost monthly plan that I could afford ($20ish a month), plus they had a really cute ad campaign). Not that I used the phone much at all, I admit that I often forgot to charge it and when I did have it charged, found that I didn’t really have that much need to speak to people on it when I was out and about. These were the days before texting, wi-fi and internet EVERYWHERE. It was just another device to lose in my purse, feel terribly adult for having and to chat on (or club someone over the head with if they were being inappropriate). Nonetheless, I had a cellular phone then and I continue to have one today.

I’ll resist the urge to bore you with my personal evolution from cell phone to smart phone, but this point of this post is this. I live, survive and thrive, quite happily without a cellular phone “PLAN.” I have never had a data plan, unlimited calling anywhere, or unlimited texting. My monthly cost to operate my smartphone of choice (iPhone 7+, which was purchased outright for me as a Christmas present two years ago, by my lovely husband) in 2018 was $9.42 a month, or $113.00 for the year. For that amount, I was able to text as much as I liked (I text about four people consistently, iMessage the others while in wi-fi range) and take or make the occasional urgent call.

$9.42 per month. I’ll just leave this here.

The beauty of my pay-as-you-go, non-plan plan is that I am not locked into a contract, there is no temptation or incentive to always be looking for the next phone ‘upgrade’ and I am completely off-line whenever I leave the house, unless I purposefully tap into some free wi-fi (which I will admit to doing at times, although mostly to access my Flipp app to price match groceries).

What never ceases to amaze me though is the almost weekly “Special, exclusive” offers I receive via text message from Rogers. This one came in on Tuesday afternoon:

Sounds pretty “exclusive” to me! Oh wait, just a sec…

So basically, I can go from having everything I need for $9.42 a month on pay-as-you-go (no commitment, fees, or contract), to having more than I need for a minimum of $33.90 (taxes included, extra fees excluded) a month? Now, I’ve never claimed to be a mathematical genius or financial guru, but it sounds to be like Rogers is trying to tell me that I’d be getting a much better deal if I spent $410 a year rather than the $113 a year that I currently spend. Except, I still would not have a data plan and I’d be out an extra $300 a year. Calling it a “no tab Plan” doesn’t change the fact that it is, in fact a “Plan” and by definition, at least in my experience, “Plan” = $$$$.

Look. I’m not a doctor, lawyer or pimp. I do hold a pretty high position, but it is within my family unit and to them, I am always just a holler away. Heads of State do not need to reach me at all hours and when I need to price match a head of lettuce, the grocery store has free wi-fi for when I’ve forgotten my paper flyer at home. I do not feel the need to be online and entirely reachable 24/7. I almost always have my phone charged and with me, but more often so I can take pictures and video of my kids and other absurdities in my day, track my steps (phone and watch sync strangely) and keep an eye on it for texts from any of my people. The ringer, notifications and sound features are almost always in the ‘Off” position. I do not allow apps to flash notifications on my screen when someone posts on Instagram or Facebook or sends me an email. I’ll check everything in good time.

For some people (doctors, lawyers, or pimps, say) it may make real sense to have an expensive data plan with all the bells and whistles, 24/7 access to the internet, maps, GPS, etc. etc. I get that. I suppose, what I really want people to know is that for most of us OVIP’s (Other Very Important People), it is a choice and there are options out there for those, who like me, want to just have what they actually need, rather than what we’re constantly told that we need or inundated with media telling us that it is what we all really want. For me, I would rather spend that $300 on a great day out as a family or register one of my kids for an activity they want to pursue. If I were single, I would rather add that $300 to my travel fund, RRSP or towards an adventure (that I would document using my plan-less phone *grin*).
xx

A rainbow of smart phones, but do you need a plan? Can you save the money and do without all the bells and whistles?
Smartphone image credit: pctechmag.com

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.

Seven frugal things I’ve done so far this month

Note: I am not cheap. I am not broke. I am not rich. I am none of these extremes. Nor am I too lazy to change out of my pajamas to go and shop. No, I am frugal. With everything except the love that I feel and share, minion kisses and cuddles, smart ass remarks and writing. For those four things, restraint does not exist.

My dental superstar!

My dental superstar!

But I am frugal. I stockpile when I find deals on food and other consumables we use regularly. I wear clothes until they are fraying and screaming to be put out of their misery and I’m beginning to look more homeless than even I’m comfortable with (also, by then, often my husband is ready for a change in my fashionista scenery, so it works out well for all). I try hard to budget for major expenditures, prepare and cook meals at home, borrow movies from the library and make sure everyone sees the dentist twice a year for cleanings and check ups (preventative spending, proactive frugality, if you will).

In keeping with my frugal mission this month I have:

Fresh Ontario Empire apples. So good!

Fresh Ontario Empire apples. So good!

1. Made many dozens of cups of applesauce using apples that cost about $0.61/lb and froze it. Yes, I could buy unsweetened applesauce, but why? It is fast and easy to make and fresher than the jarred variety I could buy at the store because the apples were locally sourced and used immediately. No lengthy processing and no travel needed.

2. I am doing all of the laundry (and there is A LOT of it) after 7 p.m. during the week and all day on the weekends. I was speaking with a few other mothers this afternoon and I have come to the conclusion that I can forgo the hours of folding and just toss each small’s clothing in a basket and have them fold it and put it away. So simple. So obvious. So clever. So completely the last thing that I would ever think to do without that conversation. Mums really do know everything and it’s awesome when we share what we know! By changing this one thing, I’ll be freeing up at least two, probably more, hours every single week that I have always spent on folding laundry. That’s an extra 14 hours a week or 62 hours a month. Which equals TWO AND A HALF DAYS! I just found two and a half extra days. I’m SO excited! And also thankful that I define frugality as more than just saving or not spending money – and rather as making choices to better use ALL types of life resources, including time 😉

3. I am using up my discount lemons by adding them to every drink that I have. I love the extra flavour and while I have them, I’m choosing to buy into their health properties. I’m also about to give up my beloved Diet Pepsi, so I’m enjoying my last ones with a lovely big squeeze of lemon. I’m not looking forward to this breakup. It’s going to be ugly.

4. I am limiting our grocery purchases this month to perishables and crazy long shelf life sale items (like cereal) and preparing meals based on what we have on hand and what we have in the freezer.

Flyers, flyers and more flyers. Time to get my price match on!

Flyers, flyers and more flyers. Time to get my price match on!

5. I am making sure to use my store flyer apps to ensure that I am getting the best price for everything. And I’m also remembering to bring my phone shopping with me. Because paying $2.99 for a head of iceberg lettuce (for Greek salads) when a quick flip through the app reveals a price of $1.99 at another store saves me $4.00 right away with almost zero effort on my part. Passive saving works for me, I’ll take it!

6. I have been purging old magazines, toys, clothes and household items that we no longer use. I’m classifying this as frugal because the more things that I can shift out of the house, the fewer things I need to dust, clean or care for. The few things I need to find places for and the lighter and our home will be. Decluttering now frees up time and space for the long term, so I find that it’s absolutely worth the investment now.

No ticket for this tomato!

No ticket for this tomato!

7. As I recently shared on the Instagram page, I renewed my licence plate sticker two months early and went with the two-year option, thereby avoiding a fine when I invariably get pulled over for having an expired sticker in February and also avoiding the inevitable price hike next year. As it is, it will be $108.00 as of January 2016 for ONE YEAR which is an increase from the 2015 prices. So I’ll pay the year in advance. Even if by some miracle rates don’t increase (pipe dream), I won’t have to worry about buying another one until January 2018 and I have two years to save for that price hike *happy tap dance with a side of sarcastic salsa*

So that’s my list for this month. I realized while writing this that I practice frugality by default now and have stopped even realizing how many ways I’m saving time, money or resources on a daily basis. I think I need to tune in more to what I’m doing and bet doing so will pay off by quickly figuring out new and better ways to increase my frugality muscle mass. 😉

 


Yes, yes, I really am THAT fancy. And we have playdoh – do you?

I don’t like to brag or anything, but this morning I made our own PLAYDOH.  And it was amazing, so by extension, I am amazing.  And I made it smell pretty by adding some peppermint extract (my house, sadly, was devoid of glitter this morning, but next time we’re adding some for sure!).  And that makes me brilliant and amazing.  Yes actually, I do think that this achievement is on par with (wo)man inventing fire.  It feels fiercely impressive to make a batch of playdoh that actually turns out.  But I can only take partial credit, because I think that this recipe is idiot (read KB) proof 😉

But because I’m the sharing type, I’m going to let you all in on the recipe for the Best Ever, Super-dee-duper’dist, Play-Doh in the history of me saying ‘super-dee-duper’ like some 90’s Barney reject.

This is fantastically easy to make and very inexpensive.  The most expensive part is the cream of tartar, but it totally makes this recipe magical.  *Jazz fingers*  *Jazz fingers*

Yes, I do know that my mental illness runs deep.  I’m okay with it, so you should be too.

F.A.N.C.Y.

ANYWAY – now for the recipe:

Ingredients

1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of salt (dear Lord, please don’t eat this shit.  Your sodium levels will go through the roof.  Oh, and don’t let your pets eat it, this much salt could kill ’em and that would make your kids feel sad, and NOT happy, which is the purpose of playdoh – duh.)
2 Tbsp cream of tartar powder (this is NOT tartar sauce as I have heard of some people trying to use – yuck!)
1 Tbsp oil (because I’m fancy, I used and olive/canola mix, but any oil other than motor, will do)
1 cup boiling water
food colouring – your choice or the kids.  I’ll leave this up to ya’ll to figure out.
Peppermint extract to make it smell nice and help preserve it a bit longer.

Directions

Mix it all together (I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer) until it comes together.  I don’t recommend using your hands for the first while because that boiling water is not fooling around.  It is hot as a mo-fo.

Start playing, but play nice and share.  Then take a picture and email it to your friends and family.  Then sit back and wait for the intervention.

When the fun is over and the kids are a crying mess and you’re ready to start drinking (again) in the morning, gather up all of your playdoh and store it in a Ziploc bag.  You know, so you can have all that fun again tomorrow 🙂

Happy doh doh’ing!


Another reason why I love living on the fringe of Keswick proper (and once again, I narrowly escape the po-po and lock up)

The other day my four smalls and I were on our way to Tae Kwon Do when what catches my eye on the grassy part of the roadside?  Something red.  Very red.  And lots of it.

I jam the brakes bring the van to safe stop, slam it into reverse carefully and cautiously back the van up.  And what did I find?

TOMATOES!  Tonnes of them!  Dummy here was too excited to take a “before” picture, so here is what was left after I took all of the ones that looked completely intact 🙂

And yes, I know.  Before those of you who actually know me and my long history of hating on tomatoes that were not in the form of Heinz ketchup, let me explain.  I’m a grown up now!  I still won’t eat a raw tomato under threat of death, but I do make a pretty good homemade sauce and will totally not hurl if a slice of one finds its way on to my hamburger or sandwich.  I eat it.  I deal.  It’s called maturity people. But I don’t have a lot of it, so please don’t test me on it. I will fail.

Anyway, this is the bounty I recovered:

Free Keswick tomatoes – about 10 pounds of them – wooooo hoooo!  I left about twice this behind for being less-than-perfect.  I can really be a judgmental bitch sometimes (or maybe that’s a mental bitch – I dunno – I got free tomatoes!)

and I abracadabra’d them into about 10-12 cups of diced tomatoes (frozen, not canned) and about 10 cups of yummy, delicious sauce.  For basically free – just a little time and effort (and a whole lot of excited energy – LOL!)

Sauce for days! Mmmmmm mmmmm good! Even my Deacon licked his plate clean and he’s my boy that always asks for his spaghetti without sauce! Chef Boy-ar-who?

But before all of this sexy sauce making and tomato dicing occurred, I committed a minor Criminal Code violation.  Well, technically I did and then I undid it pretty quick-like, but if you cut through all the bullshit, I done did it.  I stole bananas from the grocery store.  But then I went back and paid for them.  So I’m either a really honest person who made a mistake or a really crap thief with an attention deficit disorder.  Or both.  Or neither.  Does it matter?  Really?  I mean, I didn’t have to do any hard time, the police weren’t called, there was no cavity search and no one was hurt – hell, even the store was paid in full for the $1.75 worth of bananas that I had stashed under my stupid Wal-Mart special stroller and promptly forgot about while paying for the over-priced pull-ups for Ms. M.  So really, who was hurt?  Other than me?  Paying too much for overpriced pull ups was painful (but not as painful as I imagine a cavity search would be, so I’m counting my blessings, honestly!), but I’m not the type to hold a grudge, so yes, I returned to the store and paid for the bananas that my babies were going to consume the next morning.  I just couldn’t stomach the thought of feeding them all that bad karma with their legit and innocent Cheerios, you know?

Unstolen bananas just look cleaner and taste better, you know?

So, what have you found, scored or unstolen this week?  Everything counts, everything makes a difference to your bottom line – your financial one or your karma one 😉


Frugal Wednesdays – And We’re Back!

After taking a Wednesday off (for March Break fun) we’re back with another installment of frugal ideas that can work for everyone (nothing extreme, no recommendations of cloth toilet paper or taking one meal a week made primarily of cat food).  Money is on everyone’s minds these days.  Who has it, how to get it, how to keep it, how to spend it and how to save it are the five hot personal finance topics out there right now and while I can’t tell you who has it or how to get it, I can offer tons of ideas about how to keep it, save it and spend it – wisely, frugally and responsibly.  I think it’s Dave Ramsey who fancies sayings “Live like no one else now so that you can LIVE like no one else later.”  I’m not a big DR fan, but he does come up with some excellent ideas and sound bites on occasion.

And now, like sands through the hourglass, there are:

Honey Badger’s Frugal  (and maybe fun?) Wednesday Suggestions

1.  Roll your feet to warm and happy.  No, no, I am the last person who is going to suggest that you take up rollerblading, worry thee not!  No, I’m talking about taking one of those 1 or 2L pop bottles you normally fold up and put in your Blue Box (un, you DO recycle, right?) and re-purposing them to make your feet happier.  Fill the bottle with hot water.  Take a seat.  Roll the bottle back and forth under your feet.  Feel your tension ease.  Feel your feet send you lots of foot love.  Rinse and repeat as often as necessary/desired/awake.

2.  Learn how to cook at home. Even a sub-par fast food meal costs exponentially more than anything you prepare at home.  Let alone fancier restaurant food – the mark up is crazy and the food is often disappointing.  Not to mention potentially full of additives and preservatives that if you prepared it yourself, you could decide to add or avoid.  Either way, I’m not telling anyone what to eat or how to eat it, but it should be a conscious decision that you make as to what you put in your body and what you do not.  I am not the picture of health and fitness, so believe me, this ain’t no skinny chick telling the fatties what to eat, but I am aware of the choice I’m making when I order pizza instead of making it at home.  And that’s all I’m advocating for you too.  Oh, and a simple dinner out at Swiss Chalet for 2 adults and 4 kids, with the kids sharing a meal and two milks, is over $50 plus tip.  To put it in perspective, I feed everyone every meal, for a week for $150.00 or less.  1/3 of what a single meal out costs us.  Say what?!?!?

3.  Get honest about your spending habits.  “Thinking” that you only spend $x.xx on stuff is very different than actually tracking your spending and knowing that you spent $x.xx on stuff.  Want to ‘find’ $20.00 a month?  Track everything, I bet you end up finding a lot more than $20 that you’ve been literally throwing away each and every month.  Try it.  It’s a real eye opener and I won’t lie, it can be very painful to see it all in black and white.  Stop giving your hard-earned money away for little-to-no value in return.

4.  Follow the rules.  Yes, I know that you’re in a hurry and that where you need to be is far more important than where I need to be and more important than something so arbitrary as a speed limit but is the fine worth the extra two minutes you make in time?  And, come to think of it, the 15 or more minutes you sit by the side of the road waiting for your lecture and your pricey ticket costs you much more time that actually following the posted speed limit would have. And the wear and tear on your vehicle and the costly repairs will only hit your wallet and send your mechanic and his family on a European vacation on your dime.  If you’re in a hurry, leave earlier.  Stop terrorizing everyone on the road and beating your car into the ground.  It’s not rocket science and for the sake of not paying ‘Stupid tax’ for your haste, by way of fines, repair bills, your obviously very valuable time, and insurance premiums, are the costs and potential risks really worth it?  Follow the rules, be considerate of other drivers – and their cars, their time, and most importantly, their safety.  It is never the wrong choice and it will save you time, money and good karma points!

5.  Take the time to praise, not just to complain.  When you get really great service, a really wonderful deal, have a noteworthy experience, praise those responsible.  If your cashier at the grocery store was friendly and professional, smiled and said hello and thank you, stop for a second and tell the manager that she made you trip to his store better that day.  You would make the time to find the manager if the cashier had been rude and surly, so make the time to point out the good stuff too.   The horror stories of deals gone wrong and poor service and it’s important that bad experiences be shared, of course it is, but it is equally important to share the good stuff too.  When a business or a person goes out of their way to make your day or experience a little better, pay it forward by giving credit where credit is due.  It builds good will and good energy that will attract more positive, good experiences to come your way. 🙂

What are your favourite frugal or resource saving tips or tricks?  Share, share!


My Couponing and Shopping The Sales Challenge. The February Results

Okay.  So.  Ya, well, um, ya.  I think I’m a dismal failure (again) this month *thud*

Back on February 1st, I posted my shopping goals for the upcoming month.  They were good goals.  They were noble goals.  They were goals, that appear to have been WAY out of my reach.

But it’s not entirely my fault (ya right, chica, ain’t nobody believing that story again).  No, but really!  Who could have predicted a product pairing that gave you TWO full-sized products which would normally cost anywhere from $2.49 to $3.49 EACH would go on sale for $2.49 for BOTH and that you (or, I, in this case) could match it with a $.75 coupon and end up paying $1.74 – or, half the price of ONE of the items?  I mean, come on now!  And yes, these were both products that my family goes through A LOT of – because my family is awesome and there’s just no helping that.

What can I say? My kids are budget conscious creatures too, I guess.

But, all besides the point.  The point is that I completely blew the budget and the number of shopping days/trips challenge, LARGE.

My grocery budget goal to feed and keep clean my family of feral (but totally awesome) monkeys (and man) was (and is) $500.00 a month.

To recap, here were January’s stats:

Coupon savings – $337.33
Shopping the Sale Price savings – $321.59
Over Budget – $265.33 (Ouch!)
Number of Shopping Days – 7 (Opps!)

and here are February’s stats:

Coupon savings – $208.98
Shopping the Sale Price Savings
– $469.99
Over Budget – $128.90
Number of Shopping Days –
15 (or, embarrassingly enough, more than TWICE January’s number)

Ok, now I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking that I actually did better  this month than I did last month.  And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, I’ll give you that.  But I shopped on 15 out of 29 days of the month – that’s over HALF.  That’s too much.  My challenge isn’t just to save money, but it’s to save resources and time and these stats show that I spent way too many of both this month.

A new month is starting tomorrow.  I better get my ducks in a row, because there are 31 days and I definitely don’t want to spend half of them shopping. 😉

For March, my goals include: $500 grocery budget and spend only part of 6 days of the month spending it 🙂

Are you tracking your spending/savings?  How are you doing?  What do you track and how strict are you with yourself?


Frugal Wednesdays – Random Collection of Ideas With Attitude

Life is about to get very, very interesting around here.  We have our moving date and it’s only 8 weeks away!  Freaking out, yes, yes I am.  Excited?  Oh yes!  But moving isn’t a frugal activity, so moving right along here are 10 random frugal ideas (Honey Badger style) from all over the place and all over the alphabet. 😉

Honey Badger’s Frugal Wednesday Randomness 

1.  Scrubbing the dishes?  When you are using soap-filled scrubbing pads like SOS, wet the object to be scrubbed instead of the pad. The pad lasts a lot longer and doesn’t rust as quickly.  Also, unless you have a tonne of pots and pans to scrub at one time, cut the pad in two pieces before using. This will stretch the pads AND sharpens your kitchen shears at the same time.  If you just used it for a smaller job, store it in a Ziploc bag and stash it in your freezer.  This will help the pad last practically forever.  When you remove it from the freezer, a quick run under hot water will defrost the pad and make it ready to use again.

2.  You will save lots of money and prolong the life of your clothes if you use less soap and wash exclusively in COLD water.  Try it, you’ll be amazed.  Remember, the more soap you use, the more you have to buy, the more you buy, the happier the manufacturers are, the happier they are, the more they want to sell, the more they want to sell, the more they tell you to use.  The more loads you wash in HOT, the more you spend on electricity or gas (depending on your water heater).  The more you spend on utilities, the happier and fatter the utility companies get.  The fatter they get, the bigger their pensions get.  The bigger their pensions get, the bigger they want them.  The bigger they want them the more they raise the price of utilities.  It’s insanity.  It’s a vicious, dirty laundry conspiracy – choose to NOT participate.  Just say NO!  Less Soap, Cold Water!

3.  Read your weekly fliers.  Stores other than Wal-Mart price match.  I don’t visit more than two stores in any given week, so I’m not spending a ton in gas to save .20 on a tin of beans.  BUT, by just shopping the sales, and without accounting for coupon use (which would more than double my savings), I have saved over $400 this year alone, just by taking 20 minutes a week to go through the flyers and make a list.  So, over a period of seven weeks, I have spent a total of 2.33 hours of my time to save over $400 on groceries and household items that I would have needed to buy in any event (these kids, they sure do get cranky if you don’t feed ’em!).  So, if my math is right, that means the value in that 20 minutes a week is the equivalent of $172 per hour.  Holy sugarsnacks!  I’m making bank *grin*

4.  Freeze your leftovers.  Stop throwing out a spoon full of corn here, a few florets of broccoli there, half a cup of soup there.  Repurpose them in another meal later on.  One tiny cooked pork chop and three pieces of broccoli and a lonely baby carrot, together do not a meal make, but freeze them, pull them out and add them to a stir fry or soup and presto magic – no food wasted and even better, no money wasted!  It sounds weird, I know.  We’re so used to just tossing everything into the bin and washing up but next time, take a second, stop and really see what’s in front of you and think to your self “can I use this in another meal?”  More often than not, the answer will be a resounding, “YES!”

5.  Research and really know what is a legit opportunity and what is a scam when you are trying to make some extra money online.  For me, I’m all about the Swagbucks.  I use the SB toolbar (powered by Google) and search as I normally would and poof!  I earn SBs at random.  They, when I have enough (usually at least once a month), I redeem my SBs for Amazon.ca gift cards.  I have ‘earned’ over $90 without doing anything more than I would do usually online.  Oh, and I did spend some of that Amazon gift card money on a new lens filter kit and a remote control for my beloved Rebel T2i ;).  But, I’ll be posting a more complete and in-depth post on Swagbucks in the near future.

And, just because posts without pictures are kind of bland, here’s one from quite a few years back now:

A very early, failed attempt at, I think, potato-cheese bread. It tasted great, but looked so weird! UFO, anyone?

6.  Rehydrate your own beans.  One pound of dried beans makes the equivalent of 3-4 tins. Make it as you need it, or bag and freeze a whole batch for crazy days.  Always boiled red kidney beans for 10 minute or more before eating.  Make your own “instant rice”- when you’re making rice anyways, double or triple what you actually need, then freeze the extra. You just need to heat it through when you need it – such a time and money saver and is great for brown rice too.  (and in keeping with item #4, freeze your leftover rice and add it to later dishes as well) 😉

7.  Stop buying expensive laundry pre-treatments.  Make your own laundry pre-treater that gets the grease out of your clothes every time.  In a clear spray bottle fill 1/2 of the bottle with Dawn dishwashing liquid (purchased on sale with a coupon, of course *grin*).  Then fill the rest of the way up with water, leaving a bit of room to shake the bottle for proper mixing. It works really well on grease and food stains alike (and, say it with me,” it saves you lots of money and stops making the fat cats even fatter”).

8.  Have beautiful skin and money in your purse at the same time.  If you struggle with oily skin, add a little regular salt or sea salt to your regular cleanser.  It acts as an exfoliator.  If you have ‘regular’ (as opposed to elephant?) skin or suffer with dry skin, add a teaspoon of sugar to your cleanser instead.  Next time you have the time and privacy to take a bath by yourself (no kids pounding on the door or trying to “keep you company” – uh huh, as if!),  put some oatmeal into a piece of clean, old pantyhose (make sure that it is tied off at both ends) and put in your bath.  Once it has soaked in the water for a while, squeeze it and the oatmeal milk will help to make your skin so soft and also reduce any redness.  This is also non-toxic and helpful if you have a rash.  Once your bath is finished, just toss out the stocking. Quick and easy clean up – LOVE IT!

9.  Wherever and whenever you can – hang your wet laundry up to dry!  I have five kids and one husband (no husband-brothers or sister wives here *grin*) and I hang all our laundry from April through to November (in Canada, no less) and when I am forced to use the dryer, I use it at night during ‘off peak’ hours, so the electricity is less than half the cost as ‘high demand or medium demand’ times.  TOU electricity is not fun, don’t be shackled to your drier.  Your clothes will last longer and smell nicer if you hang dry them 🙂

10. Nobody likes the ends of the loaf of bread.  I don’t understand it, I certainly don’t endorse this behaviour, but it’s true.  Many people are prejudiced against bread ends.  So many people just bypass the first piece in a brand new bag of bread and skip back two or three slices.  The bag will have a couple of slices left in it but you’ll hear “we don’t have any bread!” and they open yet another bag and look to toss the (for some reason) offensive ends out.  But stop!  Freeze them.  Save them up and use them for stuffing, make bread crumbs, or other things with them.  It doesn’t matter if they’re frozen, and no one will know or care that they ARE eating the ends 😉  Or, you could save a BUNDLE and bake your own bread, but baby steps are the best place to start 🙂

What are your favourite frugal or resource saving tips or tricks?  Share, share!


Frugal Wednesdays – Baby Wipes, not just for bums (or mobsters?) anymore!

Lack of imagination and inspiration dictated that I pick something that started with”B” today, this being the second Wednesday that I’m trying this whole Frugal Wednesday thing.  So, it’s baby wipes.  My house is overrun with baby wipe containers.  Having four of my kids currently aged between seven years and 21 months, we’ve had a lot of consecutive years of baby wipe containers appearing in various rooms of our house.  And, we haven’t just used them for bums, but in a pinch for any number of other uses too.  Here are a few that I’ve tested and tried and a few that I’ve heard about from others.  Just a note: I only buy Huggies or Pampers wipes.  I’ve tried the store brands, and even the dollar store, in an effort to save money, and it’s just not worth it.  If you have to use more of the cheaper/thinner wipes to do the job of just one of the better/thicker wipes, you’re not saving money or resources, you know what I mean?

'nuff said *grin*

Anyway…

1.  Remove your makeup (for those of you who have time to apply make up in the first place!).  Like the supermodel trick of using hemorrhoid cream to reduce under-eye puffiness, baby wipes are another trick of the trade.  To remove stubborn makeup (especially black eyeliner!) give one of these a whirl.  And it’s not nearly as yucky as hemorrhoid cream on your face.

2.  Stain removal from carpets, upholstery and even clothing.  No, really!  Use a baby wipe to blot liquid spills from your rugs and carpets.  These magic wipes absorb the liquid and the stain – Bam!  Various drips and spills on clothing (most people in possession of baby wipes are regularly splashed with tears, boogies, spit up, juice, milk, etc.)  Man, I sure hope the Slap Chop guy doesn’t get a hold of this one, his Schticky or Sham Wow sales may suffer…

3. After a day at the beach, when your SPF didn’t quite cut it, soothe your tender skin by gently patting the baby wipe on the affected area.  They are also killer for on-the-go cleaning of cuts and scrapes.  Much better than that balled up month old Kleenex in your purse or pocket!

4.  Clean your keyboard.  I have, on occasion, shaken the living heck out of my keyboard to rid it of dust and debris from under the keys.  And then Rigatoni (3) thoughtfully popped all the keys on my laptop, so I was able to do a through cleaning, before re-attaching them all (and, as an aside, my Shift key has never been the same after the removal).  Keyboards get nasty dirty, I discovered, so every now and then, give them a good cleaning.  And when you finally shut down your machine for the night, give it a quick once over with a baby wipe to show some love to the keys that keep you in touch with everyone from your spouse to your parents to the gas company, everyday.

5.  Shine those shoes without getting into a situation where you find yourself bleeding and locked in the trunk of speeding car (Billy Batts) or on the flip side, having the misfortune of having to find somewhere to stash the body (Tommy, Henry and Jimmy) (“Now go home and get your fu*&in’ shinebox!” – God, I just love Goodfellas!)  Or, just clean your dancing shoes up a bit.  I’ve used them on runners and fancy leather shoes a like and have been nothing but pleased with the outcome.  It’s an excellent way to do a quick clean up before that parent-teacher meeting you’re (always) running 5 minutes late for 😉

So, those are the tips and tricks for today.  I hope you find them useful.  And even if you don’t, I hope it inspires you to go and watch Goodfellas.  We could all use a little more hollywood mob drama and glamour in our days, no?

How about you – any good uses (other than the intended) for baby wipes?  Share, share!


Frugal Wednesdays with The Keswick Blogger (or with Honey Badger, depending on who shows up that day!)

In an effort to actually organize this blog, for the time being, I’m going to have designated days to write about specific things that interest me or that I do and want to share or areas of frugality that I want or need to learn more about. Hence, the Frugal Wednesday title 😉 Each Wednesday, I’ll post something related to frugality, be it family budgeting, couponing, shopping tips and tricks, household tips and tricks, or even ethical or moral issues that come up while surfing the frugal wave.

For today, and then periodically on Wednesdays in the future, I’ll pick a letter of the alphabet and find something most people have around the house and list five alternative uses for it. Because really, if I can do at least five different jobs with one item, I’m saving valuable real estate in my cupboards and drawers and keeping the money in my pocket, buying one item instead of five!

A to Z tips and tricks with everyday household items

Aluminum foil

1. Soften brown sugar – wrap a rock-hard lump of brown sugar in aluminum foil and bake it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.
2. Polish your silver – Ion molecular reaction will shine it right up. Line a pan with a sheet of foil, fill it with cold water and add two teaspoons of salt. Let tarnished silverware sit in the solution for two to three minutes then rinse and dry off.
3. Scrub your pots – out of SOS pads? No problem. Crumple up a handful of aluminum foil and scrub away the grime!
4. Sharpen your scissors – use any leftover foil that is otherwise headed for the Blue Box . Smooth out and fold into several layers and start cutting. Seven or eight passes should sharpen your scissors right up.
5. Fix loose batteries – place as thick of a piece of foil as needed between the battery and a ‘relaxed’ spring to help tighten up the connection again.

What, other than covering food in the oven or wrapping up leftovers, do you use aluminum foil for?